Parents fined over children’s school non-attendance

A 13-year-old boy at the centre of a judge’s threat to jail his parents for Christmas has the learning capacity of a six-year-old due to chronic educational neglect.

Parents fined over children’s school non-attendance

At Ennis District Court, Kevin Sherry, a solicitor for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (CFA), said the teenager “has the learning capacity of a six- to seven-year-old and is suffering from chronic educational neglect”.

Mr Sherry said the case “is as bad as it gets in terms of the boy’s parents failing in their legal and moral obligation concerning the educational needs of their child”.

“There is no defence here to the chronic educational neglect,” he said.

Mr Sherry said the teenager has an 82% absenteeism rate from Irish and UK schools since October of last year when the CFA first brought the matter to court.

His 14-year-old sister has an absenteeism rate of 94% during the same period, the court heard.

Judge Patrick Durcan asked the solicitor for the two parents, John Casey: “Do they not realise the damage that they are doing to their children?”

In reply, Mr Casey said: “Neither parent has had much education and I have explained to them that there is absolutely no benefit to the kids and that it is all detrimental to them.

“The learning ability of the boy for someone his age is very poor.”

Mr Casey added: “It is the usual ‘You can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink’ — and these people know now what to do.”

Judge Durcan had adjourned to yesterday, from earlier this month, the prosecution by the CFA against the couple. He had warned the parents then that they would face jail unless there was 100% school attendance for their two children from December 6.

Mr Sherry told the court yesterday that there has been 100% attendance for the two children since then and that it is the family’s intention to return to England in January.

He said the family has been going over and back between the two jurisdictions.

The couple initially faced proceedings from the CFA concerning the non-attendance of their two teenage children from October of last year.

Judge Durcan yesterday accused the parents of “playing the system and playing every system under the sun. That is what we are dealing with here.”

Judge Durcan fined each parent €1,000 concerning the non-attendance at school of the two children.

Mr Casey said the family returned early for Christmas in mid-November to be with the ill paternal grandfather of the children.

Mr Casey said the family came home too early for Christmas. Mr Sherry said the two were previously registered with a school in the UK and that there were attendance issues there.

Judge Durcan replied: “That is my concern.”

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