Traveller got place in school after boy cancelled
A chance cancellation of their place by another pupil allowed a Dublin school to admit a Traveller boy, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Sources close to the De La Salle secondary school in Ballyfermot insist there was no discrimination involved.
The school initially refused entry to 12-year-old Paddy Flynn because its first-year classes - which have been declining in size - were already full. The annual intake of pupils has gone down sharply due to falling enrolment numbers. In this instance, the application was not submitted on time.
School sources also suggest they understood alternative arrangements had been made for the continuing education of the pupil involved. His parents, who cannot read nor write, said they did not know they had to apply. Meanwhile, it has also emerged the school has also provided a number of back-up education-related facilities where these are deemed necessary.
Education Minister, Richard Bruton, said legislation is now in train which in certain circumstances "will require a school to take an individual''. This latest controversy comes as the drop-out rate among pupils from the Travelling community, in the second-level sector, continues to be significantly higher than the national average.
Education experts say there are a number of reasons for this trend - including cultural traditions and parental attitudes. Performance in primary school is also an important factor which determines how pupils adapt to the second-level sector. Erratic attendance levels is a continuing problem for children from some Traveller families. State agencies have formulated a number of plans to tackle educational under-achievement in specific socio-economic groups.