Parents of frequently absent schoolchildren get court ultimatum

Parents of children who are missing substantial amounts of school were warned by a judge to improve or face court again.

A previous court was told how the children — aged between nine and 14 — were from a large family and the parents, who live within 10 minutes’ walk from a school, had come up with “a series of excuses” for not sending their children to school.

Last May, that court was told that one of the children had not spent a single full day at secondary school, while three younger children had missed 105 days, 100 days and 81 days at primary level, and rates of absenteeism without genuine excuse ranged from 37% to 32% in a given period earlier this year.

The case was adjourned to yesterday where a solicitor for the Child and Family Agency said that while attendance had improved slightly in the new school year, absence was still at the rate of 30% for all four children. The eldest child was at secondary school.

“The young children are frequently late for school by as much as 20 minutes and they disturb the whole class,” the solicitor said.

All the children had missed a whole week at the start of the school year because of being on holiday with the family.

Solicitor Pádraig O’Connell said there were a number of children in the family, including younger non-school going siblings.

“It’s a matter of focus,” Mr O’Connell said.

However, Judge James O’Connor said: “A 30% rate of absenteeism means all focus is gone.” He said he would only tolerate a maximum 10% absenteeism rate from now on, and advised the legal teams that he would allow the case to be re-entered within seven days notice should the school attendance not improve dramatically.

The previous court was told that the parents had only reacted meaningfully when the Child and Family Agency had summonsed the family to court in March.

School Attendance Notices, the first step in legal action over school attendance, were issued to the parents in late September 2013.


Lifestyle

As the clocks go ahead, so does your style. Corina Gaffney picks your new wardrobe heroesFashion forward: Spring fashion as the clocks change

Des O'Sullivan gives an overview of the changed dates for much-anticipated salesAntiques & FIne Art: What events are put on hold for now?

Virtual auctions a welcome distraction, writes Des O’SullivanBuyers adapt with ease to bid online while grounded

I wish I could write us all back in time, when we could pop to the shops without fear, when grandparents did not have to wave through a window at their grandchildren.Michelle Darmody: Recipes with simple ingredients

More From The Irish Examiner