Discrimination against our disabled son

Our little boy was born with Down Syndrome, which doesn’t bother us at all.  He’s just a little normal dude to us, with a chromosome upgrade. It just makes him even more special to us.  He’s our little super-hero … without the cape.

We do know that being born with a disability may be challenging for him.  As any loving parent, it is therefore our duty to protect and assist him throughout his life, making sure he gets all the same opportunities as any other kid.

The first 5 years of his life went without any major hiccups, despite the usual ‘terrible three’ symptoms, the fights with his sister and other Dennis the Menace escapades.

Parents of kids with disabilities want, for obvious reasons, their kid to attend mainstream school.  They will develop in confidence and get friends and even be part of a gang.

So, because our little dude turns six this year, it means he can start mainstream school.  This is another proud moment in our life.  Our little dude is off to school.

Our oldest daughter is attending an Educate Together School, which apparently is meant to be excellent and very inclusive, meaning that it doesn’t care about religion or disabilities.  It will treat and educate kids equally … or so we thought.

The application / enrollment form for our son was submitted in January and we had the initial chats with the school about his needs.

It’s pretty obvious that he would need some level of support, called Special Needs Assistant (SNA), to help him during the school day, making sure that he does his duties, math, toilet stuff, lunch, etc.  In order to get an SNA, we needed to submit a few documents about his disability to then get him enrolled.

Keyword here.  He had to be enrolled in a school before the Principal can apply for the SNA.

We submitted the necessary assessment reports and waited for the school to contact us.

The contact happened after a recent visit to the US, where we met the principal and the Chairperson from the Board of Management.  Let me just say, it didn’t go as we expected.

Both the Principal and the Chairperson were reluctant to enroll our son due to his disability, using the excuse that he wouldn’t get an SNA – according to the school.  Please note, the principal can only apply for a SNA after he has been offered a placement!  How did they know he would not get an SNA?

Secondly, they didn’t like or accept the reports from the local health-board (HSE) psychologist which clearly stated that our son should go to a mainstream school.  The Principal didn’t think the assessment reports were completed.   However, if the assessment reports were reformulated, then she would give our son a place in the school.

Based on the Principal’s suggestion, the assessment reports were re-written and the psychologist wrote 3 letters to re-iterate her views and support that he should go to mainstream school – unfortunately the Board and Principal back-tracked on their promise!!

As you might understand, we were not impressed with this attitude, and I might have said a few honest things to the Principal and Chairperson, as any parent would’ve done.  Next thing you know, I was called a bully!  Heck, I don’t give a crap, as long as I get my son what he’s entitled to. We even pleaded and begged to the Principal to at least send the SNA application form to see what he would be offered by the Department of Education.

The next few weeks were spent arguing with the school, getting letters from the healthboard and contacting various support organisations.

Finally, we received a letter from the school and hoped it would be good news.  But no, the school denied our son a place in the school, because of his disability.

I’ll keep the next paragraph short, mainly to reduce the amount of aggression and abuse I might dish out, and also because I want the message to be clear.

According to the Irish legislation, all kids with disabilities are entitled to an education and to attend mainstream school.  The health-board has issued these reports for other kids and they have been awarded a place in other schools.  Read the ESPN

In short (and good Irish), the school is a showering bunch of @£$%!*^$%.  There, I said it.  Read the EPSEN Act you numbskulls!

We can only see this as a direct discrimination of our son, because of his disability.

In good Tarantino style, the school has no idea who they’ve pissed off.  My wife, an excellent human rights activist and revolutionary, decided to take up the fight.

Again, I need to make it clear, we did indicate to the school that we would fight tooth and nail for an SNA, as long as they enrolled him.  This should have triggered something in their miniature brains, saying that we support our son fully and that we will fight for his rights.

The recession has brought some cost reductions to the educational system and the SNA allocation has been reduced.  But, kids should still be given the opportunity to join mainstream school.

One couldn’t but empathise with the anguish and the energy that parents with a child with special needs display. Any mother, any father would go through the wall for their child and I understand that” – Ruairi Quinn, Minister of Education

In good grass-root style, we contacted a long list of people, so they could see how the school is discriminating against our son.  We were sitting in our house in the evenings, plotting our revenge and style of attack.  This was suburban combat.  Fight for your rights.  This list includes:

What did we give feed these wolves of political and media powers?

Well, we gave them the evidence and our story.

If you want to support our cause or help us in our fight against the evil tyrants, then contact us and we’ll happily share the evidence with you too.  We only ask you to communicate this further and get the necessary people involved.

The school needs to be brought to justice and pay the ultimate price of unemployment!

Is Feidir Linn!

Feel the wrath of angry parents.  The school has messed with the wrong parents.

Is your child being discriminated against?  Has your child been refused a place in the school because of a disability?

We cannot get heard without helping each other and spreading the word.  It is important for the future of our kids, abled or disabled kids alike.  The ministers need to be made aware of these problems and enforce EPSEN on all schools within the Irish school system.

Name 'n shame those schools that don't comply with Irish Law!

Don't accept a no and don't let people discriminate against children

One thing that I need to point out.  Yes, we are unfortunately leaving the country, and the main driver for this is because our son didn’t get accepted in mainstream school, and we don’t think he has much of a future in Ireland.

This saddens us a lot.  We have over the years fallen in love with Ireland and have made loads of friends here.  This is our home.  We have all our stuff here and our kids were born in Ireland – they are Irish.  But, we have to do what’s best for our family, i.e. our kids.

For the record, Judgebrix would never put his tail between his legs and leg it, but in this case, family priorities takes over.


    • In our case, it’s Lucan Educate Together. However, that doesn’t mean that all Educate Together schools are like this. It could happen in any school.

  1. I am so sorry that this has happened to you and your family! We worked in the same company until I had my son five years ago. He has attended Enable Ireland’s early intervention services since he was two and we also live in Lucan. A few of his friends are also attending or are enrolling in schools in the Lucan area and have had positive experiences.

    Try other schools including other educate together schools in the area. Schools often have contingency plans for short notice requests for places, eg. immigration, adoption, bereavement, fostering.

  2. I am very sorry to hear that your son has been discriminated against. It is every parent’s dream that their child, regardless of how they have been born, will have a place in society. Going to school with mainstream children would maximise those possibilities. It is very disappointing that an Educate Together School is not living up to its own ideals. It shows the downside of parental involvement gone crazy!!! I have heard it is not the first time either for this school. They did the same with an Autistic Child, and even won a court case against him and his family which gave them the right not to accept him into the school. This is very worrying and if there is a pattern here the Department of Education should definitely keep an eye on that school’s management However, if the school can prove that they cannot provide for a pupil’s needs they are basically free not admit the pupil. This school has not even sent your kid’s application? How on earth did they get away with that? Shame on them!

  3. How did they get away with not sending out the application form for an S.N.As?
    Shame on them! Wasn’t this the same school that refused to admit an autistic boy to their outreach unit and even went to court to stop him from coming to the school? The Department of Education should keep their eyes wide open and check them out! Best of luck with your son! Lucan Educate Together should change their name to Educate Alone! Have also heard the B.O.M management is run by a bunch of bullies!

  4. Hello,
    Having read your story It reminds me of our own story , when we enrolled my son (who has significant mental and physical needs) in our local national school in which we already had a son attending the principal in question laughed and asked us was there not a more appropriate school in the area for him , this was because her school was not wheelchair accessable, and on a number of occasions spoke with my wife regarding the cost it would mean to accomodate our son in the school as you can imagine this greatly upset my wife. Having done my research I found out we as parents were entitled to enroll our son in what ever scholl we wished so one solicitors letter to both the Principal and the board of management in question was not long in sorting it out. End result the school benefited from a grant in excess of 250,000 euro for works to accomodate J in the school. And he was also granted full S.N.A hours. From that day to this we have not had a problem. I think too many prople take NO as their answer and dont persure what they are entitled to !

    • I’m delighted that you took up the case with a solicitor and the school, and that your result was positive. The school must have been delighted with the grant, and getting an upgrade of the school. Excellent.
      We have alerted local and national politicians, as well as other interest organisations, hoping to make the media + other parents aware that these things unfortunately happens.

  5. Hi, I may sound dumb, but did this discrimination take place here in the US, or in Ireland? I’m curious to know, because where we live, children with special needs go to our public schools, no matter what their needs…..and they are provided individual education plans and one on one educational assistants (as needed, since there are some children who don’t always need one on one). If this happened in Ireland, I really think you will have a better experience here in the States. If it happened here, I’m so sorry!! Maybe you SHOULD move to the west coast!!

    • Hi Barbara
      Unfortunately this took place in Ireland, and has caused a bit of attention in the media today. Many radio stations covered the story briefly and some news web sites too. We were interviewed for both newspaper and radio.
      We have already spoken to a school in the US, and they are looking very much forward to working with our son, which a great relief. Not on the West coast, I know, but a bit closer to my 2nd home nevertheless.
      Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

  6. hi, can i just ask why you wudnt consider sending to a special school who would look after his every need? i am the mother of a child with down syndrome who is doing very well in special school she almost has one to one teaching, its best decision i ever made.

    • We did consider to a special school, but the physcologist recommended mainstream school. And, we wanted him to at least try mainstream school. We felt that he would benefit and thrive in the mainstream environment. So, that’s really the main reasons. Special schools are great and provide excellent support for kids. If mainstream didn’t work out, after 6-12 months, then we would certainly bring him to a special needs school. The main thing we want is for him to be happy and enjoy school.

      • hi yes i understand why you want to send your son to mainstream and it has worked out for lots of parents so i really dont know why the school wouldnt apply for an sna for him?sure how are they to know what your sons ability if he doesnt gt the chance…………

  7. Principal and the Chairperson of this school are a disgrace and don’t relaise how hard it is for a parent when their child has special needs. These two people needed to be challenged in a court of Law on their school etos.
    I wish to you the best of luck in america and I hope you never have to encounter this type of selfish decision making. My son is 12 months old and I hope I do not encounter this type of appaling discrimination, if I do I will be in the courts as what ever cost,thsi government should be ashamed of themseleves, they are willing to apy out billions in unguaranted bondholders but can’t provide this young boy the opportunity of going to school in his own country.

    • Well said Rosie Farren. The carrry-on in this school is akin to bullying.The committee people have formed a close bond among themselves and school management . Therefore they recieve special treatment from school management. Professionalism is out the door! Let’s have tea and dinner parties in each others houses with the principal as guest of honour!
      Too much power to selfish parents with their own agenda is dangerous. Especially when the school principal is weak. And this is the result!

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