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Monday 20 November 2017

'This is not a haven for young, single mothers'

Barry Duggan

IN 2009, a 16-year-old pregnant girl attempted to enrol at St Joseph's School, Borrisoleigh, in Tipperary.

A report by Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan said she had previously attended two secondary schools and left both as she was unhappy in one and did not settle in the other. After a short period working, she decided to return to her education when she found out she was pregnant and she chose the school founded by Padraig O'Shea, as her friends were there.

After believing she was accepted in St Joseph's, her parents told a staff member that she was pregnant.

Ms Logan's report said the girl was informed by the principal that the school would not accept her as she was pregnant.

She subsequently enrolled in another school, gave birth in 2010 and received home tuition while on maternity leave.

In September 2010, Ms Logan stated that the young mother again attempted to enrol at St Joseph's, but received a phone call from Mr O'Shea saying: "I will not and do not accept single mothers in this school."

Mr O'Shea disputed this version to the Irish Independent and said she never attempted to enrol a second time.

The teen then enrolled in a former school for the 2010/11 term.

The mother and daughter made a complaint to Ms Logan's office in early 2011, which began enquiries and received correspondence from Mr O'Shea which said: "My duty is to protect the honourable majority of my pupils" and "this is not a school for single mothers."

In further correspondence to Ms Logan in July last year, Mr O'Shea wrote: "This school is not a haven for young pregnant people or for young mothers who, in particular, have been in two other post-primary schools."

Concluding her investigation, Ms Logan recommended that the school should apologise to the young mother and should immediately review its enrolment and admissions policy and that the Department of Education should carry out an inspection at St Joseph's.

Irish Independent

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