Teenager with ADHD offered school place after seeking court injunction
Solicitor asks judge to withhold order
It was argued in court that the Constitution obliges the State to provide for free primary education. Photograph: Bryan OBrien
A teenage girl with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other difficulties who has been out of school for more than a year and sought court orders compelling the Minister for Education to get her into a school has been offered a school place, the High Court heard yesterday.
In those circumstances, Mark de Blacam SC, for the girl, asked Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley not to deliver her judgment on the girl’s injunction application but to adjourn the matter for six weeks so any “teething problems” concerning the school placement can be addressed.
Conor Dignam SC, for the Minister, said people had been working very hard in an effort to get a school place, and the offer was not conditional on the HSE providing school transport.
Ms Justice O’Malley said she was pleased to hear a place had been found and listed the matter for mention in late April.
The judge was due to deliver her judgment yesterday on the injunction application on behalf of the 14-year-old. She has a number of difficulties, including ADHD, conduct and attachment disorders, and an intellectual disability.
Since her family came to Dublin from Derry in 2008, they sought a school place for her and obtained one in 2010. After a year in that schoool, she was excluded temporarily in December 2011 due to her challenging behaviour and that exclusion was made permanent from February 2012.
She has been out of shcool since but received home tuition from April to June 2012. She is also receiving services from the HSE. The home tuition did not resume again until December 2012 and is continuing on the basis of two hours daily.
A social worker team leader had exhibited a care plan stating the girl needed a school place with the necessary supports while a psychologist’s report stated she needed to learn how to interact with other children, the court heard.
Her father had appealed under the Education Act against her exclusion but the appeal was rejected. The aspect of her action challenging the exclusion was not before the court at this stage.
It was argued the Constitution obliges the State to provide for free primary education and the corollary of that is children have the right to free primary education. When a child is not getting such education, the court is entitled to make an order compelling the Minister to ensure appropriate provision is made, Mr De Blacam submitted.
Mr Dignam had argued the orders sought were not justified as no expert evidence had been produced to prove the interim solution of home tuition was inappropriate. It was clear from reports the girl required a range of additional therapeutic services including psyhological and psychiatric supports which were not within the Minister’s area of responsibility, he added.