A COUPLE prosecuted for their son’s absence from school had their sentence deferred until after his Junior Certificate exam.
Judge James McNulty asked whether the parents had the “moral authority” to keep their son, described as a bright teenager, in school.
Anna Mucha and Rafel Rejdych of The Slip, Bantry, were found guilty of their son’s prolonged absence from school under section 25 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 at Bantry District Court. They could face a fine of up to €1,000 or up to 30 days in prison.
However, it was noted that there had recently been a “marked improvement in the young man’s attendance” and as he is due to sit his Junior Certificate in June, a “purposeful adjournment” was sought.
Judge James McNulty said he would defer the penalty but the matter needed to come to a conclusion.
Denise Kirwan, partner at Comyn, Kelleher, Tobin solicitors, acting for the Child and Family Agency, said the boy was 15 years old and attending secondary school in Bantry. A School Attendance Notice (SAN) had been served on November 15, 2021.
The boy’s attendance for the 2021 school year to today indicates he was present for 31 full days of school, Ms Kirwan said. He was absent for 68 full days and had partial attendance on 46 days. On the nine days the school was open since the family’s last appearance in court on the matter on April 28, the teenager had attended each of those nine days, Ms Kirwan said.
Defence solicitor, Flor Murphy of O’Donovan, Murphy and Partners, said the boy did not want to go to school and had been unaware of the problems he could create for his parents by not attending, but now understood that he must attend until he turns 16. He said that his parents now also understood that their children must attend school whether they wanted to or not.
Parents can be jailed and fined if their children fail to attend school or education up to the age of 16. Judge McNulty asked whether the parents had no moral authority to ensure that their child attended school.
Mr Murphy said that the family were of Polish nationality and while Ms Mucha had been in Ireland for some time, her partner and son had been in the country for about five years. Judge McNulty convicted the parents but deferred penalty to review the case in the autumn.
“We’ll see what progress will have been made.
This is a matter of the parents coming under the scrutiny of the court,” Judge McNulty said.
Mr Murphy said that the boy will be 16 by then and will therefore be legally permitted to leave education.
This story first appeared on IrishExaminer.com