A 13-year-old boy has no secondary school to attend this year as his application was late because his sister passed away from cancer, his mother told Independent.ie.
Lee Moore (13) from Portlaoise had to watch his primary school friends attend St Mary’s CBS Secondary School last week and was unable to join them due to the school’s zero tolerance policy for late applications.
Lee’s mum Ann Marie Moore said the school had “absolutely no sympathy” for the family.
“He lost his sister, he lost his friends and he’s totally on his own. He’s lost and all of his friends are at school,” Ann Marie told Independent.ie.
“You’d imagine they would be lenient seeing as he lost his sister,” she said.
Lee’s mother said his enrolment form was two weeks late as his sister passed away around the deadline. He’s currently on a waiting list to get into the school but Anne Marie fears he’s already falling behind.
Principal Maura Murphy insisted the application period for the school was between October and November 2015, four months after the death of the young girl. She said pupils were handed application forms on October 12, 2015 and the forms were available online a couple of days later.
She also said she did not hear from Lee's mother until December of 2015.
She said she has every sympathy for the family and will contact them when a place becomes available.
Meanwhile, mum Ann Marie said she is worried Lee is falling behind.
“He will be home-schooled if he doesn’t get a place but he’s already two weeks behind and the home-schooling won’t be sorted for another four weeks," she said.
“The Government are paying €40 an hour for an educator to teach him nine hours a week but it’s ridiculous because most kids are in school eight hours a day,” she said.
She said Lee is desperate to go back to school and was the type of child who would go to school “even when he was sick”.
Lee is on the waiting list for another secondary school in the town, Portlaoise College, but there has been no word if he will be accepted.
“Even if he gets into this school we’ll face a lot of costs. He’ll need a new uniform, a €700 iPad and he won’t be with any of his friends. None of that matters, he just wants to be in school.
“My heart breaks for him,” she said.
The principal said she recognised the tragic circumstances of the case and will contact the mother "the minute" a place comes available.
Maura Murphy said that while the circumstances are "tragic" she was obliged to follow the school policy in regards to late admissions.
“I met with Ms Moore on a number of occasions to discuss the issue after the process was closed. If she had come to me during the process last December and explained her situation I might have been able to do something about it then,” Murphy told Independent.ie.
“I met her two weeks ago too out of courtesy to explain the situation hadn’t changed. I’m working my way through the waiting lists and late lists but I can’t pull another child out of the school to give her child a place.
“Our trustees have approved our application process and I have followed it. The minute I hear a place is available I’ll let her know. I don’t know if I’ll get down the list to as far as her son.”