THE parents of a 12-year-old boy with special needs have threatened to take him out of school unless his Special Needs Assistant is restored.
Billy and Pauline Brophy live in Education Minister Ruairi Quinn's Dublin constituency and they also plan to petition the minister on the issue.
Just days ago, the Brophys, from St Brendan's Cottages in Irishtown, were told that their 12-year-old son Jack will no longer have a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) full time when he moves into sixth class next September.
"I won't leave him in school if he's unhappy. I'll take him out," threatens Billy, who points out that Jack – who has Downs Syndrome – also has mobility, hearing and sight disabilities.
Billy explains that Jack, a pupil at the Star of the Sea school in Sandymount, has had a full-time SNA at school since he was in junior infants.
He needs full-time assistance because of his multiple disabilities, they said.
"The SNA is not just for Jack. It's for the other 29 children in the class. The SNA keeps Jack quiet. She looks after him so the teacher can teach the others if he gets grumpy and boisterous. This affects everyone in the class not just my son."
The withdrawal of the SNA from Jack's school comes despite an announcement yesterday by the National Council for Special Education that "Resource Teacher and Special Needs Assistant posts have been maintained at the 2012/2013 levels".
Billy is determined to fight the loss of the SNA at the Star of the Sea school.
"I want to send something home in every child's school bag and get all the parents to sign a petition.
"This is Ruairi Quinn's constituency so I'm going to deliver the petition to his door. I've emailed the minister and the local politicians Lucinda Creighton, Eoin Murphy and Kevin Humphries.
"We've only a week and a half to the end of school so I have to act fast."
Billy points out that this is the fourth SNA the school has lost in three years leaving the school with just one.
He says that one of the children with Special Needs is making his First Communion this year which means the SNA will have to take him across to the church on a regular basis and will not be available to the other two children.
"I don't blame the school. It's not their fault. About a week or so ago the Government announced a €150m package for school building and roads. Is this, I wonder, Ruairi's re-election card?
"If it is, then it's like wanting to buy a new car when you don't have the money to fix the broken one you have outside the door."