Nine jailed for failing to send children to school

Nine people were jailed last year for failing to send their children to school.

Overall, parents and guardians of 102 children involved in truancy were hauled before the courts.

The National Education Welfare Board revealed a dramatic increase in the number of parents brought before the courts.

Court summonses almost doubled from 94 in 2010 to 186 last year.

However, the total number of parents convicted last year of failing to ensure their children attended school had halved — down to 28 in 2011 from 54 the previous year.

The number of people jailed also declined, from 15 in 2010 to nine last year.

Last year, 105 cases brought against parents by the NEWB were adjourned compared with just nine in the previous five years.

Dan O’Shea, NEWB regional manager in Munster, said the courts were only used “as a last resort”.

He admitted there were more new cases involving children who had previously not come to the attention of the NEWB, while the organisation currently has 16 vacancies that cannot be filled because of the public service moratorium.

Mr O’Shea said: “We use the courts as a continuum of intervention.

“We do not view a parent receiving a custodial sentence as a positive outcome. If the child returns to school that is a positive outcome.”

He said that the NEWB was taking a harder line with parents that do not comply with agreements struck with a school to assure their child attends, while just a very small percentage of cases coming to their attention would be repeat offenders.

He said the NEWB had streamlined the way it approached cases, requiring parents to comply with agreed conditions in a shorter timeframe.

Despite the fall in convictions last year the overall conviction rate was still almost one in three of all cases involving the NEWB since 2006, while one-fifth had been struck out. In the same period 501 summons have been issued.

In three cases last year, bench warrants were issued because the parents failed to show up in court.

In addition, 16 cases were struck out and another 14 cases were struck out with leave to re-enter. Three cases were withdrawn and one was dismissed. The Probation Act was applied in seven cases.


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