Parents may face jail as boy misses school for two years

A judge has warned a 13-year-old boy who persistently skips school — attending just four days in three years — that both his parents will be sent to prison if he does not attend school in September.

Judge Dermot Dempsey had heard evidence at Balbriggan District Court that the boy, who cannot be identified as he is underage, had only attended four days at school in 2011 and no days in 2012. He has not attended school at all this year.

The case is being taken by the National Education Welfare Board.

The boy’s parents were told they will face one month in prison if the boy does not attend school in September. The court heard from the boy’s father who said he has tried persistently to get the boy to go to school.

“Without physically making him go to school, I don’t know what else I can do,” the distressed father told Judge Dempsey.

Defence solicitor Patrick Jackson said there has been an issue with cyberbullying towards the boy outside of school hours and the boy had wanted to change classrooms.

When Judge Dempsey asked what the boy was going to do in September, his father replied: “He says he has no problem starting a new school in September and he will go back on his own terms.”

However, the judge remarked “does he expect to swan into school in September without any preparation for going into first year?” He said “going back to school on his terms” is not the way the education system operates, and that by making the boy aware his parents will face prison it “might shake him up a bit”.

He put the case back until October to see if the boy attends school.

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