Monday 14 October 2019

School must pay €3,500 to father after enrolling daughter against his wishes

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Gordon Deegan

A parents' row over the enrolment of their daughter in a Co Clare school has resulted in the school being ordered to pay the father €3,500 compensation in a discrimination case.

This follows the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) upholding the girl's father's claim that he was treated less favourably by the secondary school's Board of Management than the mother of their daughter, because he is a man and she is a woman, when it came to their daughter's enrolment. The father took the gender discrimination case under the Equal Status Act against the school board after the school enrolled the girl for the 2017/18 school year without his consent.

The parents are estranged and share joint legal guardianship of their daughter.

Along with ordering the school's board to pay the father €3,500 for the effects of the discrimination, WRC adjudication officer Enda Murphy ordered that the board review its admissions policy with a view to making any necessary amendments to ensure that the principles of equality are applied to both male and female legal guardians in the assessment of applications for enrolment.

In the case in April 2017, the father became aware that his former partner applied to have their daughter enrolled in the school in January 2017.

The father said he contacted the school on April 10 and informed the school that he did not consent to the enrolment.

At the end of August 2017, the girl was now attending the school and the school principal wrote to the father on August 30 advising him that both himself and the girl's mother should sort this matter out between themselves in the interest of their daughter.

The father told the WRC the school enrolled his daughter according to the wishes of the mother and did not take his position as a male or father into consideration.

In his findings, Mr Murphy found the father as joint guardian was fully entitled to object to the enrolment of his daughter in the school.

Mr Murphy said, in the circumstances, he has taken the view that it was incumbent on the school board to bring the father's objection to the attention of the mother of their daughter and to defer any decision on the enrolment application until the issue had been decided upon by the courts.

He said instead the school proceeded to enrol the daughter even though it was fully aware of the dispute between her parents.

He said: "I find that the respondent in doing so, subjected the complainant to discrimination on the grounds of gender in relation to his daughter's enrolment."

Irish Independent

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