Parents having to choose between 'unpaid leave or child missing days' due to lack of transport for special school in Carrigaline

Parents having to choose between 'unpaid leave or child missing days' due to lack of transport for special school in Carrigaline

Carrigaline Community Special School is beset by transport issues which has led to some children missing school as alternative transport is not an option.

A Cork TD has expressed concerns about the lack of transport in place for students attending a new special school outside the city.

Carrigaline Community Special School is beset by transport issues which has led to some children missing school as alternative transport is not an option.

A total of 29 students have applied to use the bus service, which is operated by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education under the School Transport Scheme.

Speaking to The Echo, Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said: “Once again, the most vulnerable children in this state are falling through the cracks. These children are starting school too late already thanks to the Government overpromising on the delivery of this school.” 

The school operates under the patronage of Cork Education and Training Board (Cork ETB) who Deputy Gould said have “worked tirelessly to get the school up and running”.

He commended Cork ETB for their hard work but said that they are now “being faced with a situation whereby children are missing further days of school because of a lack of transport”.

In a statement issued to The Echo, a spokesperson for Cork ETB said: “Cork Education and Training Board appreciates the difficulty for parents and students of Carrigaline Community Special School while they await the provision of appropriate school transport.

Cork TD Thomas Gould has expressed concerns about the lack of transport in place for students attending a new special school outside the city.
Cork TD Thomas Gould has expressed concerns about the lack of transport in place for students attending a new special school outside the city.

“In cooperation with the management of the school, we are working with the National Council for Special Education and Department of Education Transport Section to expedite the provision of transport services to qualifying students who attend Carrigaline Community Special School.” 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Bus Éireann said that it has only recently received 29 SEN applications to Carrigaline Community Special School and these applications are all in active process.

“Our School Transport team in the Cork office are working extremely hard on reviewing these applications in order to identify transport solutions that meet the individual needs of the children involved.

“There is inevitably a lead-in period required to procure suitable vehicles, ensure all necessary safety checks are completed and for drivers to be fully vetted prior to commencement of any new service. There may be additional time required for the school to source a suitable escort.” 

The spokesperson said that Bus Éireann recognises the challenge for parents and guardians of pupils attending the school and assured parents that they are “continuing to work intensively with the Department of Education to provide transport solutions as soon as possible for outstanding applicants”.

Deputy Gould said while he understands it is not Bus Éireann’s fault and that they are working on the issue, that it is “unacceptable that this has been allowed to happen”.

“Because of the nature of the school, many of these kids are coming from all over Cork and it is not possible for their parents to drop and collect.

“Some parents I’ve spoken to are having to choose between taking unpaid leave from work or their child missing school. That shouldn’t be happening in this day and age,” he said.

Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, Elaine O’Donovan, whose son attends the school, said that the lack of school transport has forced her and her husband to choose between taking unpaid leave from work or their child missing school.

Ms O’Donovan said that on the days her husband cannot take time off that her son has to remain at home and miss school.

She said that her husband was out of work last week, two days the week before and three days this week to bring their son to school which she said is having an impact because “he could lose his job”.

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