25/08/2016

Education Ombudsman Needs To Be Established - FG

Fine Gael has called for the creation of an Education Ombudsman to protect students, parents and school staff.

South West TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, Jim Daly, made the call following the publication of findings by the Equality Tribunal which revealed a County Cavan school discriminated against a student for not allowing his assistant dog to accompany him to the classroom.

Deputy Daly said: "It was deeply disappointing that a school was able to deny a student the assistance of their special needs aid in the classroom. The case in question involved a 17 year old cerebral palsy student who was denied permission to bring his assistance dog into the classroom in his County Cavan school.

"The Equality Tribunal has now made a finding of discrimination against the school in question, a decision which I welcome.

"I commend the adjudicator of the Tribunal, Ms. Orlaith Mannion, for highlighting the 'Just say no' attitude of the school's board of management.

"There is no avenue of recourse to parents in such instances and that is why I have introduced the Education Amendment Bill 2015 which will establish an Ombudsman for Education. The legislation will afford all students, parents and indeed staff of a school the opportunity to appeal a decision of a School Board of Management to the Education Ombudsman.

"The finding of discrimination by the Equality Tribunal represents a victory for this young student and indeed students with disabilities across Ireland. I hope that my Education Amendment Bill will ensure that no student will have to go to such lengths to achieve their rights in the future."

(MH/CD)

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