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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 17 February, 2019
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Penalties for parents who fail to send children to school are 'totally inadequate', judge claims

Penalty for the offence on first conviction is a fine of up to €1,000 and a possible one-month sentence.

Image: Shutterstock/heliopix

PENALTIES FOR PARENTS found guilty of failing to send their children to school are “totally inadequate”, a judge has said.

Judge Anthony Halpin’s comment came after he heard the case at Dublin District Court of a mother who was prosecuted because her daughter kept missing school.

The woman has pleaded guilty to breaking the Education (Welfare) Act by complying with official warnings about school attendance.

The penalty on first conviction is a fine of up to €1,000 and a possible one-month sentence per charge.

Judge Halpin said this was “totally inadequate” and “the penalties have to be such that would persuade parents to carry out their duties”.

He accepted that if there was a repeat offence, the law allows a parent to face prosecution from Tusla on separate charges for every day the child has missed.

However, he remarked that Tusla don’t do that.

The minimum school-leaving age is 16 years, or the completion of three years of post-primary education.

Judge Halpin said the child was being deprived of education because the parent was not carrying out her duty.

“I am trying,” the woman pleaded, adding that she brings the girl to school. She also claimed the girl had been “doing well and she had a week off sick”.

The court heard the woman’s daughter missed 42 out of 175 days in the 2017-2018 school year and ten out of about 71 of the current academic year.

Sentencing was adjourned until a date in May and the judge warned he wanted there to be a “significant improvement” in the girl’s school going.

Comments have been closed as sentencing has not taken place in the above case.

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Tom Tuite

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