Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

  721. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 415 of 26 February 2002, his attention has been drawn to the fact that this person was suspended from school for the duration of February 2002 and therefore did not receive the required supports; the action he intends to take to ensure that this person receives a proper education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8554/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): I was not made aware that the pupil referred to by the Deputy was suspended from school for the duration of February 2002.

  A psychologist assigned by the national educational psychological service, NEPS, has been liaising with the school principal and will continue to do so. I understand that the pupil's parents have sought an appointment with the local health services for counselling. The NEPS psychologist is supporting this referral, with a view to having the pupil's case prioritised for attention.

  My Department allocated ten hours one-to-one tuition per week for the month of January 2001 and three hours one-to-one tuition per week for the four weeks of February 2001 for the pupil referred to by the Deputy. The principal was advised that no further allocation would be warranted without a review. A fresh application was received from the principal on the 6 March 2001 and this has now been referred to a senior psychologist in my Department for consideration.

  My Department has issued guidelines to boards of management to assist them in discharging their obligations in the area of school discipline. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of management, teachers and parents, and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of the school. These guidelines lay considerable stress on the use of suspensions and expulsions only as a last resort.

  Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal to the Secretary General of my Department where a board of management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the board suspends a student for a cumulative total of more than twenty days in an academic year. An appeal will generally not be admitted unless it is made within 42 calendar days from the date the decision of the board of management was notified to the parent or student concerned. However, a longer period for making appeals may be allowed as an exception where it is accepted that circumstances did not permit the making of an appeal within the 42 day limit.

  722. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been [1423] drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Galway is in need of a much higher level of support from a resource teacher and a classroom assistant if this person is to benefit from a mainstream school; the reason this has not been given to this person up to now; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8569/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The provision of health related services, including speech and language therapy, to people with physical and sensory disabilities is a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in the first instance. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the chief executive officer of the Western Health Board, with a request that she examine the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.