Friday 20 April 2018

Parents' council quits in row over school's suspension of pupil (12)

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE parents' council of a Catholic primary school has resigned over a bitter dispute with school authorities.

St Senan's in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, is at the centre of a row that started two years ago when a 12-year-old was suspended -- a decision that was later overturned by the Department of Education.

But the issue came to a head when the parents' council disbanded earlier this month, accusing the school authorities of "keeping a lid" on the controversy.

The boy had been accused of misbehaviour and banned from school from March 10-12, 2009.

The disbandment of the parents' council was prompted after its three parent representatives quit over the suspension and because, they said, they were given no support from the school authorities to organise activities.

The boy's parents, Charles and Jennifer Kavanagh, won a Department of Education appeal to have his suspension overturned and expunged from his permanent record.

They took their case to the High Court in March 2010 to seek a judicial review after they were initially told they had no right to appeal the boy's suspension. The Appeals Committee of the Department of Education found the school was wrong to have suspended the child. The action taken against the boy was deemed to be against the Rules for National Schools and the Education Welfare Act (2000).


Despite this decision, the chairperson of the school's board of management, The Reverend Brian Broaders, wrote to the Kavanagh family to say the department's decision was "flawed". The teenager is now in boarding school but his parents are demanding an apology.

Mrs Kavanagh said her son was "extremely popular" in class and she had always been "very happy" with his school reports.

Mr Kavanagh said his son now finds it hard to make eye contact with his teachers due to the trauma he suffered.

School principal Henry Goff and Rev Broaders were both contacted for comment but they said they were unable to disclose details of the matter because it was "confidential".

A parent representative on the Board of Management, who had quit the council over the row, condemned the school's role in the suspension.

"The school authorities kept a lid on the suspension issue for two years in the hope that it might resolve itself. But that is where the problems started. People were acting on their own authority and not listening to the concerns of parents."

Irish Independent

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