Dáil Éireann - Volume 569 - 24 June, 2003
Written Answers. - School Placement.
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
253. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be admitted to the local school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17587/03]
Mr. N. Dempsey Mr. N. Dempsey
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): The compulsory school starting age in a national school is six years of age and rule 64 (1) of the Rules for National Schools provides that a child must be at least four years of age before she or he may be enrolled in a national school. Children of compulsory schoolgoing age must have a place in a national school and overall there are more than enough places available.
Enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.
 It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act. In this regard, a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. In formulating an admissions policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful. In particular, it must act in accordance with section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000 which, subject to very limited exceptions, prohibits schools from discriminating against people in relation to a number of matters including the admission or the terms or conditions of admission of a person as a student to the school.
Where a board of management refuses to enrol a student in a school the parent of the student or, where the student has reached 18 years of age, the student themselves, following the conclusion of any appeal procedures at school level, has a statutory entitlement under section 29 of the Education Act to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science. A committee is established to hear the appeal with hearings conducted with a minimum of formality. In most cases, appeals must be dealt with in 30 days. Where appropriate, the Secretary General may give whatever directions to the board of management that are considered necessary to remedy the matter complained of.
The parents or guardians of the child in question are advised to raise this matter with the board of management of the school concerned through the chairperson.
Dáil Éireann 569 Written Answers. School Placement.