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Anger, distress and tears of parents caught in cuts at special needs school

STRICKEN families have reacted angrily to proposals to cut staff numbers at their special needs school by 66pc.

St Joseph's Special Needs School in Tallaght has 90 pupils with most suffering from debilitating learning difficulties.

Parents have praised the school for the level of education currently provided, but the numbers of teachers at the school is expected to fall from 16 to six and special needs assistants from 17 to five, cutting staff numbers from 33 to 11.

The cuts were proposed by the National Council of Special Education after they visited the school last year.

Steven Cannell from Tallaght has described at how "upsetting" the news has been for his son Benjamin who incredibly plans to sit his Leaving Cert this year.

"I've a 16-year-old son here and he is doing his Leaving Cert, Benjamin has had medical and learning difficulties ever since he was born," he said.

"It would be a catastrophe if the cuts are made now, he really does need the help to get better grades and give himself a future.

"He would have to go back to a mainstream school and he would not be able to cope with the normality and he would be picked on because of the way he looks or the way he talks.

"The school here has done wonders and he's coming out a lot better than we ever imagined.

"When I told him that some of the teachers would have to leave, I couldn't even receive what he was trying to say, he was so upset."

Carol Hassett from Lucan has described the measures as "brutal" and a serious blow to her son Ryan's future.

"My son is a chronic epileptic, he has seizures everyday and is forced to wear a helmet to stop him from hurting himself," she said.

"A special needs assistant literally has to follow him wherever he goes so that he avoids hurting himself.

"If this action goes ahead, Ryan's health and safety will be seriously called into question"

"It's brutal, the kids are going to be devastated," she said.