Mother avoids jail after her daughter missed 179 school days in two years
THE MOTHER of a teenage girl, who missed 179 school days in two years, has been fined €200 by Judge John O'Neill at Dublin District Court.
The woman pleaded guilty to breaking the Education (Welfare) Act for not complying with an official warning requiring her to ensure her child went to school.
Prosecution solicitor, Dorothy Ware, for the Child and Family Agency (CFA), asked Judge O'Neill to finalise the case because the girl will turn 16 shortly.
Education and welfare officer Jennifer Redmond told Judge O'Neill that the woman had been sent a school attendance notice in May 2013. Since then her 15-year-old's school had been open on 332 days but the girl was absent for 179 days.
Since September last year the girl had missed 70 days and the child had been referred to mental health services. However they discharged the teen finding that there were no mental health concerns.
The woman had also failed to turn up the court on four occasions resulting in bench warrants being issued and the judge heard that toda was the first time she turned up of her own volition.
She had also failed to engage the education and welfare officer over the past two years or to provide any medical certificates. The child's mother was also referred to family therapy but did not engage, the court heard. The woman told the CFA that the reason was because there had been a tragic death in the family, in 2011.
Defence solicitor Mark O'Sullivan told the court that the girl had been traumatised by the death and his client brought her daughter to a psychiatrist but she would not “connect”. Mr O'Sullivan said the woman was anxious to get her daughter the help she needs.
He said his client, who is unemployed, is using methadone and has had problems in her life but now understands the importance of her child getting an education.
The judge said his hands were tied and that by adjourning the case until September it would be only of academic interest as the girl will be then aged 16, which is the legal school leaving age.
He noted the woman had no prior convictions and had pleaded guilty to the offence which an result in a €1,000 fine and a one-month sentence.
He imposed a €200 fine and ordered that he must be paid within four months otherwise the woman would be jailed for one week in default.