The Journal.ie has a story on its front page now concerning the refusal of a Catholic ethic school in Munster to enrol a pregnant school-girl.
“Not a dumping ground”: Pregnant girl turned away from school · TheJournal.ie
As well as the refusal of the school to enrol the girl, having initially agreed to do so, but changing its mind after learning of the pregnancy, the story is noteworthy for the nature of the responses from the school to the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan;The girl’s mother said that that her 16-year-old daughter was refused entry to the school based initially on the fact that she was pregnant, and subsequently because she had given birth and was a young single mother.The girl had attended the school for an interview in 2009 and understood that she had been accepted after she was advised to get a uniform and books. Emily Logan’s report details that the girl’s parents felt the school should be informed of her pregnancy. The school principal then placed a call stating that the girl would not be accepted at the school because she was pregnant. When the teen’s mother wrote to the school the principal responded:
Your letter surprises me. A neighbour called at your request and stated that your daughter was pregnant. I was shocked and told her that I did not take in such girls. She conveyed the message to you.
- As part of the investigation process the Office sought a copy of the following informationfrom the School:
- A copy of the school admissions and enrolment policy,
- A copy of the school complaints procedures,
- Copies of all communications with the family in relation to the request for
- Details of the Management Structure of the school,
- Specific information regarding any steps taken in relation to the establishment of a
Board of Management and the rationale for same, and
- Copies of any correspondence with the Department of Education and Skills in
relation to the enrolment policy, and Management Structure of the School includingthe Board of Management or any other advisory body.
3.10 A response was received from the School Manager in late July in which it is stated:
‘Neither am I obliged to have any other frills that you mention. This school is NOT ahaven for young pregnant people or for young mothers who, in particular, have beenin two other post primary schools. The school has an uncompromising ethos and willnot become a dumping ground for those rejected elsewhere”.
The school refused to provide any of the documentation that the Ombudsman requested. The Ombudsman then requested a meeting with the school;
This all seems somewhat extraordinary. While the equality acts disgracefully provide a limited opt-out for religious ethos schools, in that they can refuse to admit persons of an ethos other than that of the schools, if they can show that admitting them would damage the ethos, schools still have to comply with all other parts of the acts (except in the case of single sex schools). One of the grounds that schools are forbidden to discriminate under is family status.3.12 The Office also sought a meeting with representatives of the school but they did not availof the opportunity to represent any further views regarding the matters under investigation. Aletter from the School Manager dated September 2011 stated:
’Do not try to blame this school for having a moral code. You have no business comingdown here to single us out - we are a Catholic school and shall remain so’. [Emphasisas per letter]
Schools are also supposed to have all the documentation that the Ombudsman requested but there is little evidence that they have such documents and policies in place.
The Department of Education need to act here and demand that they school comply with all current legislation or have all funding withdrawn. Schools should not be permitted to act in such a renegade manner.
Once again though, it throws up the issues with religious-ethos schools and the further ambivalent attitude that some in the RC church seem to have towards the state, in both its laws and institutions. The law applies to all equally, or least it should do. Elements in the RCC seem to require a short sharp lesson in this still.
Fair play to thejournal.ie for raising this story.