Challenges brought against primary school's refusal to enrol children

The school's enrolment policy gives precedence to the siblings of current students and those within the parish boundary when the school is oversubscribed
Challenges brought against primary school's refusal to enrol children

High Court reporters

Two High Court challenges have been brought by the parents of young children over a primary school's refusal to enrol them in Junior Infants from next September.

The actions centre around the school's enrolment policy, which the families claim is flawed and not properly defined. Neither the parties, nor the school, involved in the separate actions can be identified.

The two sets of parents sought to enrol their children in Junior Infants at the primary school for the school year commencing next September.

They claim the school has an admission policy, which was approved by its patron, a Roman Catholic Bishop based outside of Dublin, and is published on the school's website.

The policy states that if the school is oversubscribed, it will give priority to siblings and pupils attending the school in the previous years. The next group to get priority are all applicants living with the local Roman Catholic parish boundary.


The parents of the two children taking actions claim that they were informed that due to an oversubscription for places their children would not be offered a place at the school.

The parents sought clarity in relation to policy regarding the parish boundary. They claim the boundary has not been specified by the school.

The refusals to give the children places at the school was appealed by the children's parents and heard by a three-person committee, established under Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.

Both appeals were dismissed by the committees and the school's decisions were upheld.

Represented by Derek Shortall SC, the applicants claim the decisions of the appeal committee are flawed and should be remitted back for a fresh consideration.

Counsel said as the school's admission policy does not specify where the boundary is and that the boundary is not readily accessible or discernible, the school gave no adequate reason why its policy was correctly applied in the cases of the applicants' children.

The applicants claim that concerns and questions they raised about the admissions policy contained in their detailed submissions to the committees, including their submissions that the policy does not define the parish boundary, were not addressed by the committees.

They also claim that submissions made to the committees by the school were not provided to them.

In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Education and members of the Education committees and the school's board of management and patron, both sets of applicants seek various orders and declarations from the court.

These include orders quashing the Appeals Committee's refusals to dismiss the appeals against the schools' decisions not to enrol the children.

They also seek declarations, including the respondents have acted irrationally, failed to give adequate reasons for their decisions, and have failed to apply fair procedures.

The further seek a declaration that the patron of the primary school has failed to publish operate and effective admission policy as required under the 1998 Act.

The matter came before the court on Wednesday, where Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted the applicants permission to bring the challenge on an ex-parte basis.

Noting the urgency of the matters, the judge the said both cases should be back in early July.

However, he added he was not prepared to make any of the temporary orders sought by the parents compelling the school to provide a place in the school for the children, pending the outcome of the proceedings.

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