Sunday 19 November 2017

Pupil 'barred from sitting Leaving' over unpaid fees

Louise Hogan and Katherine Donnelly

A PRIVATE school refused a pupil the chance to sit his Leaving Certificate exams over non-payment of less than €3,000 in fees, a father claimed yesterday.

Ken Lee, with an address at The Village, Stepaside, Dublin, stood up in the Dublin District Civil Courts, brandishing a photograph of his son Daragh (18), whom he stated had been "deprived" of the chance to sit the state examination at the school.

Mr Lee accused Sandford Park School, in Ranelagh, Dublin 6, of refusing his son permission to attend the school after he turned up on August 26, 2010.

He told the court he had requested the postponement of fees amounting to less than €3,000.

Sandford Park School Ltd initiated civil proceedings against Daragh's parents, Mr Lee and Emer Lee, who attended the court.

The cost of attending the small, private day school, which provides tuition for fewer than 250 boys, was €6,800 for the 2010-2011 term.

Mr Lee said he would be defending the case and would like to tell the court what had happened on August 26 at Sandford Park School.

Reckless

He said his son was not sitting the Leaving Certificate, nor taking his sixth year of secondary school, and had left the country to live in Finland.

He claimed the behaviour of the school was "reckless and irresponsible".

He said he had paid €35,000 to the school in fees over the years. The father told the court the school had "humiliated" his son in public for "less than €3,000".

"I had requested (the fees) be postponed," he said.

Judge Mary Collins yesterday told Mr Lee the court had had difficulty in getting him to attend the case and said he had not filed notice of his intention to defend the case.

He said it should be viewed in the context that his home was "being repossessed by the mortgage company" and he was trying to "defend against everything".

A solicitor for the school requested that Mr Lee's claims be set out in writing after the judge set a date for hearing the matter in the summer.

The school's solicitor asked that the hearing be held in camera, as the person being "bandied around here is a schoolkid".

Mr Lee argued that it be aired in public.

Daragh moved to Finland to join his girlfriend, Tanja, and is now living with her family.

"He is learning the language and hopes eventually to start a further education course there, possibly in the area of science and engineering," his father said last night.

"He decided to make a life for himself there and he loves it." said Mr Lee.

Irish Independent

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