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Fury over 66pc cuts in special needs jobs

Government plans to slash staff numbers at a special needs school by up to two-thirds have outraged councillors.

They say the "shocking" cuts are targeting the most vulnerable people in our society.

St Joseph's Special Needs School, in Tallaght has 90 pupils, many of whom suffer from a learning disability.

Following a visit to the school, officials at the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have recommended that staff numbers be cut by about two-thirds.

The NCSE proposes that teaching staff should be cut from 16 to six and special needs assistants from 17 to five, cutting staff numbers from 33 to 11.

Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Cllr Mick Duff , told a recent council meeting that the NCSE has claimed up to 40 pupils in St Joseph's have not undergone a professional psychological evaluation.

Emotional

But Cllr Duff said teaching staff insist each child has been fully evaluated -- as it is a requirement to attend the school.

Teachers, parents, pupils and local representatives all met last week in what was described as an "emotional" meeting.

Cllr Duff, who attended the meeting, told the council: "One man, he was about 50, stood up and said he can't read or write and it's upsetting that same prospect is now facing his two children, that's their future".

In response to questions from Dublin South West TD Brian Hayes (FG), Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe recently said the NCSE was establishing an appeals process and in a few weeks all schools would be able to avail of that process.

However, councillors said Mr O'Keeffe's "Pontius Pilate handwashing" of the issue is unacceptable.

"You get nowhere with this Government, which is systematically targeting the most vulnerable people in our society", said Cllr Colm Brophy (FG).

"It is up to Minister O'Keeffe to make a choice, to save jobs and support the school. This Pontius Pilate handwashing of it is not acceptable".

ecotter@herald.ie


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