School children being 'selectively discriminated'

Stephen Fernane

Cllr Brendan Cronin has claimed that school children in some parts of Kerry are being 'selectively discriminated' when it comes to securing a place in a secondary school in their locality.

He made the remarks at Monday's meeting of Kerry County Council where he stated that he wants the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, to instruct all Secondary Schools to carry out a review of their admissions policy to ensure pupils living within a catchment area will be given a fair and just opportunity of attending their local school. "There is great anger out there and this smacks of a total disregard for parents in the community. Their children are being selectively discriminated against because of this. For the children being told 'no', there is no concept of the destruction this is causing the community," he said.

Cllr Cronin added that he personally knows of a pupil in his constituency, who can look out her window at the school she wants to attend, but can't because she was not selected for enrolment. He insists that this is causing friction and stress for many families and it's only going to get worse. "We are reneging in our duties as public representatives by letting this happen. I'm asking that the Department of Education amend the Education Act to ensure that children from feeder schools within an area can attend the secondary school closest to them. This is only right as children should have the opportunity to go to secondary school with their friends. The situation currently has no regard for the child," he added.

Cllr John Francis Flynn seconded Cllr Cronin's motion, saying it was wrong for people to feel they had a right to 'grade people' on whether or not they are suitable to attend the local school. He said just because a child's parents or siblings attended the school in the past, it should not discriminate against other children living in the area. "It's absurd that a school would start grading children as some being more important than others," Cllr Flynn said.