Mother prosecuted after son (11) misses 133 school days

Solicitor says woman ‘desperately sorry’ and may have ‘put her head in the sand’

A mother has appeared in court after her 11-year-old son missed 133 school days since September.

The woman is being prosecuted by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) at Dublin District Court due to the number of days missed.

Adjourning the case, Judge John O’Neill warned the woman there must be an improvement in her son’s school attendance.

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.

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Education and welfare officer Sinead O'Neill told Dorothy Ware, solicitor for the CFA, that out of the 150 days of school in the current academic year, the boy "has been absent for 133". She added he had an attendance rate of just 11 per cent.

School attendance notice

A school attendance notice was sent to the mother in November and the child has not been back to school since then.

The education and welfare officer said her office have been involved in this case 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 boy has attended child and adolescent mental services but they have concluded he does not have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the judge was told.

The child missed 40 days in the previous school year and had just a 60 per cent attendance rate in the year before that, Judge O’Neill was told.

Defence solicitor David Stafford said the woman was "desperately sorry" and it may be case that she "put her head in the sand". He said it was a result of "personal issues" and difficulties between her and her partner.

He said the woman, who did not address the court, was pleading guilty and willing to co-operate with education authorities.

Judge O’Neill warned her that her child would end up before the Children’s Court if he is not in school.