Father faces jail as girl misses 164 days of school

A father has been sentenced to 14 days in jail and his partner fined after their teenage daughter missed 164 days from a 167-day school year.

The teenager’s parents appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal charged with failing to ensure she attended school under the Education and Welfare Act.

The case of the girl, who is from east Donegal, had been adjourned from a previous occasion to see if there had been any improvement in the girl’s school attendance.

Judge Paul Kelly had warned the child’s parents that if their child missed any school days in between the court appearances without a medical cert that he would send the girl’s father to jail.

The court heard the girl had since missed three days.

Niall McWalters, solicitor for the girl, said she had been off school because of an illness which stemmed from an asthmatic condition. No medical certificates were handed into court.

The solicitor said the situation had improved dramatically and the girl had just sat her Junior Cert and expressed a desire to complete her Leaving Certificate.

The family’s solicitor said the girl was described “bright and intelligent” by her teachers.

Members of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency were in court for the hearing.

Judge Kelly said the girl’s parents, who sat at the back of the courtroom, had a responsibility to allow and encourage their daughter to get an education.

“They have a responsibility to their child to make sure she attends school and receives a proper education. This does not mean taking her away for weekends or whatever,” he said. Judge Kelly sentenced the girl’s father to 14 days in prison and fined her mother €500.

However, he deferred the sentence until October to see if the girl returned to school and how the case progressed.

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