ST MICHAEL’S House Special School in Dublin says it is “surprised and disappointed” at the Department of Education’s claim that it is refusing to enrol any more children with disabilities. A statement from the school on Grosvenor Road said it was in the process of assessing a number of new applicants. “In all cases, St Michael’s House is in full consultation with the Department of Education and Science and the National Council for Special Education. St Michael’s House is therefore surprised and disappointed with the Department of Education and Science’s statement.”
The school statement said each referral was assessed individually, considering a child’s needs, supports required and limitations of the school building. “The first priority of St Michael’s House is to children with a disability and their families.” The statement responded to the department’s claim that staffing levels were significantly greater than normal pupil-teacher ratios applying to special schools. “St Michael’s House firmly believes that the current number of teachers and staff in Grosvenor Road is commensurate with the educational and care needs of the pupils currently enrolled.”
The school said it had lobbied the department since the early 1990s for a purpose-built school in a “more appropriate location” for the Grosvenor Road pupils. “It has secured a green field site in Ballinteer and on instruction from the Department of Education, submitted plans in 2006 to the department. However, regrettably, it appears that this project is on hold indefinitely.” A man who has a daughter with special needs and who gained access to the Green Party convention at the RDS recently, protested at the gates of Leinster House last week. James McDonagh from Dún Laoghaire said he tried to enrol 11-year-old Angel in St Michael’s. He said she had not attended school for a year, and that no school would accept her “because of Government cutbacks and because of lack of resources”.
St Michael’s said it could not comment on individual cases.