Members of a 10,000-strong Facebook group seeking more resources for their autistic children has called on the Government to address concerns over what it claims are “abuses of children with additional educational needs within the education system”.
The DCA Warriors, so named because of their efforts at securing the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) for their children, has also called for an ombudsman for education to be created to address their claims.
The group is also teaming up with a Dublin law firm to hold a conference on these issues this weekend.
The move comes ahead of the budget and after the ombudsman for children, Niall Muldoon, yesterday said the Government had too little oversight over schools.
The DCA Warriors are now calling on the Education Minister Richard Bruton to investigate issues within the school system, such as allegations over the improper use of resource hours designated to children who have a diagnosis of autism, but instead used elsewhere, such as for general management duties.
Information on the claims was passed more than a year ago to solicitor Gareth Noble of KOD Lyons. He will address the conference, to be held in Kilkenny this Saturday, alongside Penny Rogers, a clinical and educational psychologist, and the DCA Warriors.
Margaret Lennon, one of the founders of the DCA Warriors, said: “There are vast sums being pumped into the special education section, we want to see that delivered directly to the children it was intended for. DCA Warriors are aware that school staff are taking resource hours from the most vulnerable children in the State for many other purposes that have nothing to do with special needs.
“We have sent in submissions detailing clearly what our members need in place for their children. Still, no action is being taken.
“Learning support hours are also being abused as there are no checks and balances in place whatever for such hours.”
She claimed children and parents were being placed under huge stress as a result of practices in some schools.
“Parents have had to remove children from such schools due to their children’s anxiety and stress at not having their needs met and professional reports ignored,” said Ms Lennon. “In some instances, the children develop suicidal ideology. Parents then have to leave the child’s name on the school roll in order to apply for home tuition. This will often be refused with no valid reason given and in contradiction of supporting professional documentation.
“The school who has driven the child out then continues to avail of large capitation grant, any SNA access that they were granted on foot of the parents often providing private and expensive professional reports and indeed the child’s allocation of resource hours.”
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