Dáil Éireann - Volume 570 - 03 July, 2003

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

  131. Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Science the system within his Department regarding applications for special needs; if 14 February 2003 was the closing date for special needs for the school term Easter to summer; if decisions were to be issued the week beginning 9 March 2003 for the term time Easter to summer; the explanation which can be given to a person (details supplied) in County Meath who is due to go into fifth class and who has not received the assistance they were entitled to for the period Easter to summer, due to not receiving a reply in the week beginning 9 March 2003, as [1104] promised; if a reply, which is now three and a half months overdue, can be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19187/03]

  132. Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Science the system within his Department regarding applications for special needs; if 14 February 2003 was the closing date for special needs for the school term Easter to summer; if decisions were to be issued the week beginning 9 March 2003 for the term time Easter to summer; the explanation which can be given to persons from Ratoath primary school, County Meath, who have been dealt with differently than their peers throughout the country in that they did not receive a response in the week beginning 9 March 2003; if a reply, which is now three and a half months overdue, can be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19188/03]

  Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 132 together.

  In January 2003 my Department advised all primary schools that responses to applications for special educational needs support for the final term of the 2002-03 school year would be issued in the week commencing 7 April 2003. All applications made by schools up to and including 14 February 2003 were to be considered in that context. A further communication to schools in March 2003 included a request for professional documentation in support of the applications to be submitted to the national educational psychological service. Schools were reminded that any delay in submitting this documentation to NEPS might result in a delay in reaching a decision regarding the allocation of resources.

  During the week commencing 7 April 2003, my Department wrote to all schools which had applied for SEN supports by the previous 14 February. Schools which had made a full and complete application were given a definitive response and the remainder of the applicant schools were advised as to the general reasons it was not possible to issue a decision within the timeframe in their cases. The main reasons for the delays were that professional reports were not submitted by schools to NEPS as requested; reports were sent to wrong addresses, resulting in delays; and certain schools omitted any reference to roll number or county on envelopes or contents, as requested. Schools which had failed to submit the professional documentation to NEPS were requested to do so by 16 April 2003. My Department is now finalising its examination of this batch of applications for SEN supports and responses will issue to schools shortly, including the school referred to by the Deputy.