School defends record on special needs pupils

A SCHOOL which refused a place in junior infants to a boy with Down Syndrome has defended its record on pupils with special needs.

The board of Lucan Educate Together National School said it refutes any claim of discriminatory practice in its enrolment processes regarding children with learning disabilities.

The parents of five-year-old Christian Medina Finsen claimed their son had been discriminated against by the school when it refused last month to enrol him. The school’s refusal referred to his moderate learning disability and said it had been told the full-time special needs assistant (SNA) recommended for him by a psychologist would not be provided to the school, leading them to believe that the boy’s educational needs could not be met in a mainstream setting.

The school board said in a statement to parents on its website that it is not policy to comment on details of an individual case, but that it carefully follows its protocols on every enrolment application.

“Every effort is made to ensure that all avenues are explored and, where learning disability issues do arise, the appropriate educational solution for each child is taken,” it said.

“In every decision we make, our primary concern is always the most appropriate educational placement for every child being considered for a place in our school. We realise and understand that parents may sometimes be disappointed, frustrated or even angry with our decision,” the board said.

The school said it has an excellent track record catering for children with learning disabilities, including two classes for children with autism for more than 10 years.

“Any claim that we discriminate against children with special needs is simply not true and does not bear scrutiny against our record,” the board said.

Monica Medina Finsen insisted yesterday that the family only decided to leave Ireland last week following the school’s decision, after it emerged that her husband Mikkel had been offered a job transfer within his company to the United States last February and accepted it in April.

“We’ve been struggling with this enrolment application since January, but we absolutely would have stayed in Dublin if the school hadn’t refused Christian,” she said.

“We have our family here, our own house and Christian’s sister and his cousins are already going to the school,” she said.

The family has decided not to pursue the legal right to appeal the school’s decision.

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