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Mum "put her head in the sand" while child missed 133 days of school

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
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STOCK IMAGE

SENTENCING has been adjourned in the case of a mother who admitted she “put her head in the sand” while her 11-year-old child missed 133 school days in less than a year.

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

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

Judge Michael Coghlan heard that since the case was last before the court, earlier this month, the woman's child has returned to school and she is “trying to get him into a routine”.

There has also been progress in relation to her attending meetings with education authorities. Defence solicitor David Stafford added that his client, who did not address the court, is now making a much better effort and the defence acknowledged the situation had been “very bad”.

Judge Coghlan adjourned the case for four weeks.

The court had been told that since the current academic year in September  the boy “has been absent for 133 says”. Up until the start of this month 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 her 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.

Defence solicitor David Stafford has already said the woman was “desperately sorry” and 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.