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Parents of boy with educational difficulties facing jail for keeping him out of school

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
The parents could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month if convicted
The parents could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month if convicted

THE parents of a boy with educational difficulties have been warned by a judge that they are making things worse by keeping him out of school.

They face prosecution at Dublin District Court after their son (14) failed to return to school last September and they have been ordered to co-operate with child welfare agencies.
 
They could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month if convicted of breaking the Education (Welfare) Act for not complying with an official warning to ensure their child went to school. 
 
Dorothy Ware, solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA), told Judge Michael Coghlan that the couple's son was taken out of his school in September. The parents had told the school they intended to move but the child was not registered with a new school.
 
It was the CFA's understanding that since then he has not been in school at all and until recently the parents would not engage with the agency.
 
The couple did not address the court but their solicitor David Stafford said it was a complex case with a “myriad of issues”.  A meeting with social workers has been arranged, he said.
 
The defence agreed that there was no physical impediment to the boy being in school. However, Mr Stafford said the child had learning difficulties and there may be an application to send him to another school.
 
Judge Coghlan noted the defence solicitor needed time to take instructions from the couple and he adjourned the case for four weeks. He also said he expected child welfare report.
 
Adjourning the case, he told the man and woman: “Two wrongs do not make it right, the fact the child has difficulties in school is a problem to be addressed. Keeping the child out of school is not a solution to the problem, in fact it is making it worse.”
 
Ms Ware, for the CFA, told the judge there had been no issues and the child had been getting on well in school.
 
The couple have not yet entered a plea and the case will resume next month. In the interim, Judge Coghlan ordered them to co-operate with child welfare agencies.