The parents of a teenager who missed 381 days of school since 2012 have been given a chance to avoid jail.
The 14-year-old had gone to school on just 26 dates since September 2012 and should be preparing to sit the Junior Certificate exams this year. However, she missed so many days she is now “anti-school”, Dublin District Court heard.
The court also heard the girl’s mother once told a school attendance official that her daughter had moved to the UK and was living with relatives there.
Education and welfare officer Jennifer Redmond told Judge John O’Neill the woman said her daughter was “a traveller and she would not be attending any school in England or at home”.
The Child and Family Agency (CFA) brought the prosecution against the parents because the girl consistently missed school since she made the transition to second level education. They could each be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month after pleading guilty to breaking section 25 of the Education (Welfare) Act for not complying with an official warning to ensure their daughter went to school.
Judge O’Neill agreed it was an “appalling” situation and adjourned the case for four weeks warning the parents: “I have explained what is facing you if you do not co-operate.”
The teenager started secondary school in September 2012 and was absent for 156 out of 167 days. In her second year, 2013-14, she missed school 152 days out of 167 and had not gone to school at all, missing 73 days, since starting third year.
She has missed almost 94% of school days since she enrolled in a secondary school.
Ms Redmond told Dorothy Ware, solicitor for the CFA, that the girl’s parents had not co-operated or responded to the agency.
Ms Ware said it was likely the girl would have to be held back a year.
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