Finding of school discrimination shows need for Education Ombudsman says Chair of Oireachtas Children Committee

Jim in DailJim Daly, Fine Gael Cork South West TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, has warmly welcomed this week’s finding by the Equality Tribunal that a County Cavan school discriminated against a student for not allowing his assistance dog to accompany him to the classroom. Deputy Daly said that the case highlights the need for an Education Ombudsman to protect students, parents and school staff.

“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.”

Mr. Daly’s Bill to establish an Education Ombudsman passed through second stage debate in the Dáil on the 28th of July, supported by the Government and unopposed by any party or independent grouping. The Bill is due to go to committee stage in October and Mr. Daly said he hopes to see the office established and up and running within the next twelve months.