Dad jailed after daughter misses 164 days of school; Parents fail to provide medical cert.
Byline: STEPHEN MAGUIRE
A FATHER was jailed and his partner fined yesterday after their teenage daughter missed 164 days from a 167-day school year.
They appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal charged with failing to ensure she attended school under the Education and Welfare Act.
The case had been adjourned to see if there had been any improvement in her attendance.
But Judge Paul Kelly warned the child's parents, who are from the village of Raphoe, that if their daughter missed any more school days in between the court appearances without a valid medical reason he would send the girl's father to jail.
The court heard she had since missed three days of classes.
After he handed him a 14-day prison sentence and fined her [euro]500, Judge Kelly said: "They have a responsibility to their child to make sure she attends school and receives a proper education.
"This does not mean taking her away for weekends or whatever." The girl's solicitor Niall McWalters said she had been off school because of an illness linked to asthma.
However, no valid doctor's medical certificates were handed in at the hearing.
The solicitor added he accepted in the girl's second year in secondary school she had missed a total of 164 out of 167 days in school.
But he told the court the situation had improved dramatically and she had just sat her Junior Cert and had expressed a desire to go on and complete her Leaving Certificate.
Mr McWalters said the girl was described as "bright and intelligent" by her teachers.
Members of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, were in court for the hearing.
Judge Kelly deferred the prison sentence until October to see if the girl returned to school and how the case progressed.