Special needs children turned away on first day

Children turned away from St Joseph’s Special School in Tallaght will now be enrolled in the school, but only after pressure from parents and others.

The 23 special needs children were turned away on their first day of school at Balrothery in Tallaght on Thursday without warning before arriving at the school.

Tallaght-based Cllr Dermot Looney (Labour) said tonight that “Great news – on foot of pressure from parents, staff and others, the Deptment of Education have reversed decision re St Joseph’s Special School.”

He said that it was “scandalous” that such suffering was caused and the events on Thursday were “very worrying.”

According to the Special Needs Parents Association, the principal of the school welcomed everybody to the school but then told parents and children that he had to attend a meeting with the local Special Education Needs Organiser to see if the children could attend the school.

When the principal returned around an hour later parents and children were informed that only seven children out of approximately 30 children would be allowed to enrol in the school, with the 23 others would have to wait until September 20 before getting  decision from the National Council for Special Education.

Special Needs Parents Association on Facebook said, “There was total uproar. Parents wanted to know what they were meant to do with their kids until 20th. What I saw was heartbreaking after the names of the seven were given. The children who were being sent home were devastated. I just think this is disgusting behaviour on the NCSE and the school’s behalf.”

Looney, who works as a primary school teacher at another local school, said “My understanding is that the school principal and staff, as well as parents, were until [Thursday] under the impression that the children were approved for attendance at the school. If this was the case it would appear that the Department of Education and Skills has failed in its basic duty of care to these pupils.”

“The very existence of St Joseph’s was put under severe threat in February of this year due to Government cutbacks. At the time, the National Council for Special Education stated its intentions to cut 2/3 of the teaching and support staff, including a reduction from 16 to six teachers,” said Looney.

“The school was also told it would lose 12 out of 17 special needs assistants, although the cuts were somewhat alleviated on foot of a vocal campaign by parents and school staff.”

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