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Pupils quit rural school as teacher tensions run high

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12-09-2012: Julie O'Sullivan, left, Principal of The Black Valley National School, Co. Kerry, speaking to Irish Independent reporter Majella O'Sullivan on Wednesday. The school was expected to have 24 students enrolled for this year but the number has fallen to six with two of these due to move abroad in six weeks time. Picture: Eamonn Keogh ( MacMonagle, Killarney)

12-09-2012: Julie O'Sullivan, left, Principal of The Black Valley National School, Co. Kerry, speaking to Irish Independent reporter Majella O'Sullivan on Wednesday. The school was expected to have 24 students enrolled for this year but the number has fallen to six with two of these due to move abroad in six weeks time. Picture: Eamonn Keogh ( MacMonagle, Killarney)

The Black Valley National School, Co. Kerry. The school was expected to have 24 students enrolled for this year but the number has fallen to six with two of these due to move abroad in six weeks time. Picture: Eamonn Keogh ( MacMonagle, Killarney)

The Black Valley National School, Co. Kerry. The school was expected to have 24 students enrolled for this year but the number has fallen to six with two of these due to move abroad in six weeks time. Picture: Eamonn Keogh ( MacMonagle, Killarney)

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12-09-2012: Julie O'Sullivan, left, Principal of The Black Valley National School, Co. Kerry, speaking to Irish Independent reporter Majella O'Sullivan on Wednesday. The school was expected to have 24 students enrolled for this year but the number has fallen to six with two of these due to move abroad in six weeks time. Picture: Eamonn Keogh ( MacMonagle, Killarney)

PARENTS removed their children en masse from a two-teacher primary school, claiming the youngsters had been left "traumatised" by tensions between staff.

Only six of the 24 children enrolled at the school before the summer holidays remain, and two of these are understood to be leaving in the coming months.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has also confirmed that it is currently reviewing an incident at the Valley National School in the Black Valley, Co Kerry, in June, following which the school was forced to close early.

Parents notified the Department of Education and Skills, the Bishop of Kerry and local representatives of the incident by letter in June.

Bishop of Kerry Dr Bill Murphy, as patron of the school, later appointed a single manager in July to replace the disbanded board of management to deal with the "complexities of the situation".

Jeopardy

Parents requested a meeting with the manager Seamus Long, and a representative from St Senan's Education Office on August 31. Parent Gene Tangney said he felt he had no choice but to remove his daughter from the school and enroll her at Dun Chaoin national school, a distance of over 80km away, where she stays with her aunt during the week.

"Six generations of my family have attended The Valley and the last thing I want to see is that school closing down and our community divided but I felt I had no choice," Mr Tangney told the Irish Independent.

Local TD Michael Healy-Rae said it was a shame the school's future was in jeopardy.

"I would be bitterly disappointed if this happened because that school has provided excellent education over the years," he said.

One parent who didn't remove his child said he did so because he wanted to save the school.

In a statement, Mr Long, said: "It is not helpful at this time to engage in public debate over the specific issues, however, it must be acknowledged the decline in numbers is an obvious concern."

The Department of Education and Skills did not respond to the Irish Independent's queries last night.

Irish Independent