Alexandra College defends ejection of Junior Cert student for unpaid fees

 

ALEXANDRA COLLEGE has moved to defend its controversial decision to remove a Junior Cert pupil over non-payment of fees.

The move came as the National Parents’ Council requested the immediate reinstatement of the pupil.

It also follows an RTÉ interview with the mother of the pupil in which she accused the school of using “Dickensian” and “very cut-throat” methods to victimise and humiliate her 14-year-old daughter in front of her classmates.

Last night, the school refuted several of the charges made by the mother in the interview. It said it felt compelled to provide further clarification because of the parent’s decision to go public and the intense media interest.

The school said the the outstanding debt “spanned two academic years, and the college engaged in exhaustive exchanges and proposed a series of compromises to address the arrears of fees, with a genuine desire to reach a solution.

“Regrettably, we reached a situation in March where it became necessary to issue a final ultimatum that in the event of the successive proposals by the college to resolve the matter not being acted upon, it would be necessary to discontinue the provision of educational services.”

The statement came after a special meeting of the governing school council last night.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill – who is the ex officio chair of the council – attended the meeting. The school yesterday refused to disclose the full membership of either its school council or its board of management.

The National Parents Council post primary (NCPpp) asked that the student be reinstated “so she can sit the Junior Cert exam without undue stress”.

The boarding student was asked to leave shortly before Easter.

The move has evoked widespread dismay and criticism.

The mother of the pupil – named only as “Marian” – was interviewed on 2FM’s Gerry Ryan Show on Tuesday.

The mother said she had attempted to make the payments on a phased basis but this was unacceptable to the school. She explained how she was separated and was coping with the collapse of her business. She claimed the school authorities handed her daughter bin bags and told her to “pack all her stuff and clear her locker out”.

Last night, the college said it was “saddened to hear these serious allegations . . . which are far removed from the reality of what occurred.

“Media reports of how the pupil was removed from a class, that some teachers discussed her family’s financial situation with her and that she was asked to pack her belongings in a black plastic bag, are incorrect.

“Alexandra College regrets that the focus of its history, ethos and child-centred approach to education has been overshadowed by some recent media coverage of a fee issue that we held to be confidential.”

The student’s family owed in the region of €20,000. Annual fees for boarders are over €16,000. The school has stressed that the pupil will be allowed to return to sit her Junior Cert in Alexandra College next week.