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Judge orders mum of boy who missed 133 days of school to be arrested

Judge orders mum of boy who missed 133 days of school to be arrested

A JUDGE has ordered the arrest of a mother who admitted she “put her head in the sand” while her 11-year-old child missed 133 school days last year.

The child wants to go to school but his mother “is dragging him down”, Judge John O'Neill said today as he issued a bench warrant.

The woman is facing prosecution by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) at Dublin District Court as a result of the massive number of school days her son missed.

She pleaded guilty earlier this year but failed to turn up to court when the case resumed today. Efforts to contact her were unsuccessful.

She could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month for breaking the Education (Welfare) Act for not complying with an official warning to ensure her child went to school.

Judge John O'Neill noted from CFA solicitor Dorothy Ware that “matters have gone down hill” and the mother did not show up for meetings with an education and welfare officer.

Judge O'Neill was furnished with welfare reports on the 11-year-old.

Issuing a bench warrant for her arrest, he said “this is terrible”. He said the woman's son was bright, well behaved, gets on well with others and “anxious to get on well in school” and “happy in school”. However, said Judge O'Neill, “his mother's attitude is dragging him down”.

The court had been told that in the academic year beginning in September 2014, the boy “has been absent for 133”. Up until the start of May he had an attendance rate of just 11 per cent.

A school attendance notice was sent to the mother in November but the child did not return to school for about five months.

An education and welfare officer said their office have been involved since 2012 and this was the second time a school attendance notice was sent to the woman. She has not co-operated with the officer despite 15 home visits and 27 letters being sent to her.

Fifteen meetings with the school were arranged but she did not attend any of them, the court was also told.

The teenager has attended child and adolescent mental services but they have concluded the boy does not have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the court was told.

The child missed 40 days in the previous school year, had a 60 per cent attendance rate in the year before that, Judge O'Neill was told.

On an earlier date, defence solicitor David Stafford has already said the woman was “desperately sorry” and it may be case that she “put her head in the sand”. He said that it was a result of “personal issues” and difficulties between her and her partner.