Dublin parents kept son (13) out of school four years, court told

Couple told they risk facing garda investigation if they refuse to engage with authorities

A Dublin couple, whose 13-year-old son has been absent from school for four years, have been warned they risk facing a Garda investigation for neglect and their children could be taken into care.

The man and woman have refused to engage with education and welfare authorities.

They had initially faced prosecution after their elder son, who is in his mid-teens, failed to return to school from September 2014 to May 2015.

However, he went back school in September last year but additional charges were brought in relation to their younger son’s education.

The Dublin District Court case has been brought by Tusla Child and Family Agency (CFA). The married couple 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 warnings about school attendance.

The parents claim the child is too ill to attend but they would not allow the CFA permission to verify this with their doctor. Initially they had signed consent forms but later withdrew their consent, she said.

Dublin District Court heard that the 13-year-old was taken out of school by his parents after an allegation was made about his female teacher.

Gardaí and social services investigated and believe the allegations were unfounded, a senior social worker told Judge John O’Neill.

The teacher has since returned to work.

The mother claims her son has been traumatised, is ill and cannot return to school.

An education and welfare officer told the court that the mother had refused to grant permission to contact their GP to find out if anything is wrong with the child.

The court heard the family would not engage with Tusla and would not attend appointments with school attendance officers.

There are child neglect concerns which have been referred to gardaí.

Judge O’Neill heard the 13-year-old has learning difficulties but Tusla were concerned that he has been out of school for four years.

“It is a huge amount of time, he was last in school when he was nine, he is now 13. Our priority is the fact he has no interaction with peers, he is in the house on a full time basis, obviously spending a lot of time with his mother and I have huge concerns for his emotional well-being and the impact of that as well,” the social worker told the court.

The case resumes in June.