Mum faces jail as girl misses 125 school days

A mother has been jailed for 28 days after a court heard her daughter had missed 125 days of school out of the last 156 days she could have attended.

Bandon District Court heard it was the third time the woman had been prosecuted by Tusla for the offence, and that she and her child live just a five-minute walk from the secondary school in Co Cork.

Judge James McNulty also heard that meetings between the education welfare officer (EWO) and senior staff at the school meant a reduced timetable had been put in place and two sets of free school books and free breakfast and lunch was available in an attempt to get the girl to attend, but with little success.

EWO Marie O’Driscoll said the girl’s mother had been issued with a school attendance notice on New Year’s Eve in person and by registered post, and that between October 26, 2018, and April 1 this year, the girl had missed 125 days.

On April 7, five certificates were presented which explained 16 days of absences, but nothing was produced for the other 109 days. From the beginning of April until last week, the girl had only attended school on eight occasions.

Ms O’Driscoll also said that, in April, the woman applied to home school her daughter, adding that while the woman had a right to do so, “as an EWO I would have an issue with that”.

The woman’s solicitor, Pat Horan, said he had spoken to his client, who was not in court, and that she had said she was meeting resistance from her daughter in her efforts to get her to school.

The EWO said: “I am not sure how much she is trying and what the night-time routine is to get her up in the morning.”

Judge McNulty convicted the woman in her absence. 

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