Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Education and Skills
91. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her Department has received legal challenges to the right of a child to a secondary school place from a parent or child over the past number of years; if so, the outcome of these challenges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [59647/21]
Where a board of management make a decision to refuse admission, expel a pupil or suspend a pupil for a period of 20 or more school days in any school year, a parent/guardian, or a pupil who has reached 18 years, can appeal that decision under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998. An independent appeals committee will be appointed to consider the appeal. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a student, except in circumstances where an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 has been allowed and the appeals committee directs that the school admit the child concerned.
The decision of a section 29 appeal committee is legally binding on both parties to the appeal, and is only open to challenge by way of Judicial Review through the High Court.
In the last three years there have been 8 Judicial Reviews taken in respect of section 29 appeal outcomes in respect of secondary school places.
For three of these cases the school board of management was the applicant seeking the Judicial Review and for the other five it was the parent who sought the Judicial Review. With regard to the five cases taken by the parent, one was dismissed by the court and one was withdrawn by the parent.Two of the cases were settled before court hearing one being remitted back to the school and one remitted back to a new section 29 committee for a fresh hearing. The other proceeded to a full hearing in the High Court and the Judgement directed that the appeal be returned to a new section 29 committee for a new hearing.
Of the three taken by the school's board of management two didn't proceed to a hearing in the High Court and the third was conceded by the Department during the court hearing. Two of the appeals were granted new section 29 hearings by my Department and the other had the section 29 decision quashed as the parent no longer wished their child to attend the school in question.