Thursday 16 August 2018

Children removed from school as pupil is accused of groping girls

Parents unsatisfied by authorities' actions after three alleged incidents

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Sinead Kelleher

Two families have withdrawn their children from a school amid allegations a male pupil carried out inappropriate acts of a sexual nature.

There have been three complaints that all refer to inappropriate touching of female pupils by a male pupil at the school.

The first incident dates back to June 2016, another to June 2017 involving two girls, with another - the most recent - happening in May this year.

The parents of the girls involved have been in discussions with the principal, the board of management and the patron, the Bishop of Kerry, in regard to their concerns.

But they have not been satisfied with the responses. Tusla has also been notified about all three incidents and has met parents.

The board of management, Tusla and the Bishop of Kerry have all stated they followed procedure.

The first incident occurred when it is alleged the male child touched the backside of a girl.

The girl reported it to the class teacher. The parents say they were not informed by the school, but having been told by their child of the incident, they trusted it to be dealt with in accordance with procedures.

The second incident involved two students and occurred almost a year later during break-time. This was referred to by the school as "inappropriate touching" and in this case the girls, it is alleged, were touched in their private parts by the same pupil. The parents were informed by the principal in this case.

One of the parents involved went to the school the following day and raised the previous issue from June 2016 which also involved her daughter.

She claims procedures were not completed in relation to that incident and a procedure should have been put in place to prevent a recurrence.

The same parent then wrote to the board of management to make a formal complaint.

The matter had not been resolved by September last year and the Department of Education became involved as the parents of one of the girls involved had not returned their children to the school. This family have since removed their children from the school.

The board of management, union reps and two families met in October 2017. A report was prepared by the parents for the board which subsequently voted that procedure was followed. The parents disputed this.

One of the parents also contacted the Bishop of Kerry as they were unhappy at the handling of their complaint. They met with him in March.

The parents are calling on Tusla to intervene and the patron of the school to get involved and dissolve the board.

A third incident arose in the school year - this time involving a separate family who have also now contacted both the principal, the board of management and Tusla.

This family say that they are worried about their child's safety after "she was groped" in class.

They have now removed their children from the school.

In response to the queries, the principal issued a statement from the board of management stating that it has followed procedures.

The Bishop of Kerry said he too followed procedure.

Tusla said all referrals were screened and assessed in line with 'Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children'.

Irish Independent

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