Parents face jail if son doesn’t attend school, warns judge at Tipperary court
A 14-year-old secondary school pupil with a chronic school attendance record was told by Judge Elizabeth McGrath at a district court sitting in County Tipperary that he had to put school ahead of any job he had.
The court was told that the parents of the boy had attempted to encourage him to attend school by taking measures such as withdrawing access to the internet but that non attendance still occurred.
Judge McGrath was told by Tom Kiely, solicitor for Tusla, that the boy missed school 25 days out of 25 days, missed school for 57 days out of 68 days and missed school for 13 days out of 20 in different terms and that a breach of attendance notice was issued against the boy's parents in April 2019.
The parents had appeared before court in December and since that date the boy had missed 13 days out of 20 school days.
Responding to Judge McGrath, who asked if there was an issue of bullying, Mr Kiely said the school would disagree that bullying was an issue.
His parents had done everything to try and get their son up and out to school but there had been a blanket refusal. The parents did curtail the use of the internet in their attempts to get him to attend school.
The boy had a part-time job and unfortunately before Christmas it appeared to turn into a full-time job.
Addressing the boy, Judge McGrath said that unfortunately by him not attending school he was putting his parents in jeopardy of a fine or being sent to prison. She asked the boy why he was not attending school. The boy said that it was hard when he started secondary school, he found it hard to learn.
Judge McGrath was told that tests carried out at the school showed that the boy was in the average academic range.
Judge McGrath said that no psycho education assessment had been carried out and she wanted one to be done. She asked the boy to co-operate with the assessment.
"No matter how much you dislike school or how difficult it is, you have to go to school. You are putting your parents in a very difficult position. They are the people I will have to punish if you don't go to school," Judge McGrath told the boy.
"You must go to school, that is your priority over any job," said Judge McGrath.
Judge McGrath adjourned the matter to March 9.