Parents of child absent from school for 243 days face jail

Father and mother prosecuted over number of days of primary school boy missed

Boy’s parents could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month if convicted of breaking the Education (Welfare) Act.

Boy’s parents could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month if convicted of breaking the Education (Welfare) Act.

 

A father and mother could face a jail sentence and a fine after a judge heard their child missed at least 243 days of primary school over a three-year period.

The couple were prosecuted by the Child and Family Agency following concerns about the high number of days missed by their son, whose age was not stated during a hearing at Dublin District Court on Monday.

Neither the mother or father, who moved to the UK near the end of last year, attended the hearing, with the father phoning an education and welfare officer shortly beforehand to tell him that this was a result of his “bad back”.

The officer told the court their son missed 72 out of 182 days in the 2014/2015 school year, 65 out of 182 days during the 2015/2016 year and 106 days in the 2016/2017 school year. Only about 20 days could be accounted for, the court was told.

It was their ninth hearing in relation to the boy’s absences from school. The prosecution commenced in January last year and the couple attended the first three hearings only, the court heard.

Notices served

Education and welfare officer Eamon Regan said it was his belief the parents were not doing enough to ensure their child went to school. He had attempted to serve school attendances notices in person but there was no answer when he called to their home. There was also no answer on a previous occasion when he attempted to talk to them about the issue.

Afterwards he served the notices by ordinary post, he said. It had been hoped the threat of legal action would improve their son’s attendance at school, the court was told.

He said the couple moved to the UK without notifying the school. When he managed to speak to the boy’s father, the man claimed his son had been enrolled in a named school in England. However, when contacted, that school had never heard of the boy.

Authorities in the UK were alerted and have made contact with the parents who are now seeking to home-school the child there, the court heard.

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.The case was adjourned until a date in April.