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Extracts from Circular M19/99: Guidelines on Violence in Schools

1. Background
2. Duties of Management Authorities to provide a Safe School environment 
3. General Duties on employees to comply with procedures 
4. Preventative measures
(a) External liaison – provision of information to parents
(b) Internal school procedures
- admitting parent/visitors to school (need for prior appointments/availability of space for private interviews)
- arrangements for parent/teacher meetings
- disciplinary issues (need for a fair and efficient code of behaviour encompassing school rules)
- complaints procedure – principles of natural justice
- safeguards for school property/security measure
5. Steps to be followed in the event of an alleged assault 
(a) In the event of an assault, a staff member should not try to resist if cash or goods are the motive for the attack.
(b) The incident should be immediately reported to the School Principal or Deputy Principal
(c) Support and counselling will be provided for the victim
(d) The matter will be reported to the Gardai, where appropriate. 
(e) The details of the incident will be recorded in the Incident Book, and a report made to the Health & Safety Authority as required.
(f) The Board of Management will be informed of the incident

Education for Persons with Special Education

Education (Welfare) Act 2000 
Preamble: Definition of a child as a person who has reached six but is not yet sixteen or who has not completed 3 years of post-primary education – thus minimum school leaving age is now sixteen instead of fifteen

Section 9 &10 Sets up National Education Welfare Board: 
§ To promote environment that encourages children to attend school
§ To conduct research into non-attendance
§ To arrange assessments

Section 11 Appointment of Education Welfare Officers

Section 17: … the parent of a child shall cause the child concerned to attend a recognised school on each school day.

Section 18: Where a child is absent from the school … during part of a school day or for a school day or more than a school day, the parent of such child shall, in accordance with procedures specified in the code of behaviour prepared by the school under section 23, notify the principal of the school of the reasons for the child’s absence

Section 19: The board of management … shall not refuse to admit as a student … a child, in respect of whom an application to be so admitted has been made, except where such refusal is in accordance with the policy of the school published under section 15(2)(d) of the [Education] Act of 1998. Parents to be informed within 21 days of decision re application 
Section 20 Principal of school to maintain a register. Principal to inform principal of previous school of decision to register. That previous principal must then notify new principal of any problems related to the child’s attendance.

Section 21:
1) The principal of a recognised school shall cause to be maintained in respect of each school year a record of the attendance or non-attendance on each school day of each student registered at that school.
2) A record maintained under subsection (1) shall specify the following, i.e. 
(a) where a student attends at the school concerned on a school day, the fact of his/her attendance 
(b) where a student fails to so attend, the fact of his/her failure and the reasons for such failure.
3) A record … shall be in such form as may be specified by the [National Educational Welfare] Board.
4) Where – 
(a) a student is suspended … for a period of not less than six days 
(b) the aggregate number of school days on which a student is absent from … school during a school year is not less than 20 
(c) a student’s name is, for whatever reason, removed from the register … 
(d) a student is, in the opinion of the principal of the … school … not attending regularly, 
the principal … shall forthwith so inform, by notice in writing, the educational welfare officer who has been assigned to the school
5) The education welfare officer all make every effort to ensure the continued education . of the child) 
6) The board of management … shall not later than 6 weeks after the end of each school year submit a report to the educational welfare officer (assigned to the school) and to the parents’ association of the school, … on the levels of attendance … during the immediately preceding school year
7) A report under subsection (6) shall be in such form and comply with such requirements as may be prescribed by the [National Educational Welfare] Board
8) An educational welfare officer may during any school day enter a … school and inspect the register maintained at that school ….
9) For the purposes of this section, a student shall be deemed not to be absent from school where any period of absence is authorised by the principal and relates to activities organised by the school or in which the school is involved.

Section 22:
1) The board of management of a … school shall, after consultation with the principal of, teachers teaching at, parents of students registered at, and the educational welfare officer assigned functions in relation to, that school, prepare and submit to the [National Educational Welfare] Board a statement of the strategies and measures it proposes to adopt for the purposes of fostering an appreciation of learning among students attending that school and encouraging regular attendance at school on the part of such students (hereinafter … referred to as a “statement of strategy”).
2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), a statement of strategy shall provide for – 
a. the rewarding of students who have good attendance records 
b. the identification at an early stage of students who are at risk of developing school attendance problems 
c. the establishment of closer contacts between the school and the families concerned in (b) 
d. establishment … of contacts with other schools … and with bodies engaged in provision of youth … programmes and services 
e. in so far as is practicable, the co-ordination with other schools of programmes aimed an improving discipline among students and encouraging regular attendance at school by students …. 
f. the identification of aspects of the operation and management of the school and of the curriculum … that may contribute to truancy on the part of certain students and the removal of those aspects in so far as they are not necessary or expedient for the proper and effective running of the school.
3) The statement of strategy prepared by the board of management of a recognised school shall be included in the plan prepared by it under section 21 of the 1998 Act.

Section 23:
1) The board of management … shall, after consultation with the principal of, teachers teaching at, parents of students registered at, and the educational welfare officer assigned functions in relation to, that school, prepare, in accordance with subsection (2), a code of behaviour in respect of the students registered at the school (hereinafter … referred to as a “code of behaviour”)
. 2) A code of behaviour shall specify – 
(a) the standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school 
(b) the measures that may be taken when a student fails or refuses to observe those standards 
(c) the procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school concerned 
(d) the grounds for removing a suspension imposed in relation to a student 
(e) the procedures to be followed relating to notification of a child’s absence from school
3) The board … shall in preparing the code … have regard to such guidelines as may be . issued by the [National Educational Welfare] Board
4) The principal … shall … provide copy of code … to student registering …and may, as a condition of so registering such child, require his parents to confirm in writing that the code of behaviour so provided is acceptable to them and that they shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with such code by the child.

Section 24
(1) Where the board of management … is of the opinion that a student should be expelled from that school, it shall, before so expelling the student, notify the educational welfare officer … in writing of its opinion and the reasons therefore
(2) The EWO … shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that provision is made for the continued education of the student to whom the notification relates. In this regard, he will make all reasonable efforts to consult with the principal, the student concerned, his parents and any other persons the EWO considers appropriate, and convene a meeting of such of those persons who agree to attend such meeting.
(3) A student shall not be expelled from a school before the passing of 20 school days following the receipt of the notification mention in (1) above. However, this section is without prejudice to the right of a board of management to take such other reasonable measures as it considers appropriate to ensure that good order and discipline are maintained in the school concerned and that the safety of students is secured.

Section 25: School attendance notice [on parents] by the Education Welfare Board – fines and imprisonment

Section 26 Education Welfare Board may make submissions under section 29 of the Education Act

Section 29 Education Welfare Board to set up register of young persons. A young person is defined as a person other than a child (i.e. has reached 16 years) but less than 18 years. The Board will prepare an individual plan for each young person who registers so that he/she can avail of educational and training opportunities. The Board will also provide the young person with a certificate of registration. An employer may not employ a young person on any work unless the young person is a holder of a valid certificate. Employer must inform Board when young person employed. Penalties for employers who don’t comply. This section does not apply to a young person who is registered at a recognised school.

Education for Persons With Special Needs

Equal Status Act 2000
Schools are within the scope of the Equal Status Act which aims to promote equality and prohibit types of discrimination, harassment and related behaviour in connection with the provision of services, property and other opportunities to which the public generally has access.
The ten grounds are
1. gender 
2. marital status
3. family status
4. sexual orientation
5. religion ground
6. age ground
7. disability ground
8. ground of race
9. Traveller community ground
10. Victimisation ground
Reasonable provision must be made by the provider of the service for students with disability. Section 4(1) provides: “Discrimination includes a failure by the provider of a service to do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability by providing special treatment or facilities, if without special treatment or facilities, it would be impossible or unduly difficult for the person to avail himself or herself of the service “
Section 7 (2) of the Act provides: “ An educational establishment shall not discriminate in relation to (a) the admission or the terms or conditions of admission of a person as a student to the establishment (b) the access of a student to any course, facility or benefit provided by the establishment (c) any other term or condition of participation in the establishment by a student or (d) the expulsion of a student from the establishment or any other sanction against the student.
Exemptions for educational establishments
(i) Where a primary or post-primary school admits students of one gender only, and it refuses to admit as a student a person who is not of that gender
(ii) Where the establishment is a school providing primary or post-primary education to students and the objective of the school is to provide education in an environment which promotes certain religious values, it admits persons of a particular religious denomination in preference to others or it refuses to admit as a student a person who is not of that denomination, and in the case of a refusal, it is proved that the refusal is essential to maintain the ethos of the school. 
(iii) differences in the treatment of students on the grounds of gender, age or disability in relation to the provision or organisation of sporting facilities or events, to the extent that these differences are reasonably necessary
(iv) differences in treatment on the grounds of disability where compliance with the act would make impossible, or have a seriously detrimental effect on, the provision of educational services to other students
The effect of this latter exception is to create a presumption in favour of mainstreaming of children with disability which can only be rebutted if the school can establish that mainstreaming would render impossible, or seriously affect, the provision of education to the other children in the class
In addition to tackling discrimination on the above grounds, the Equal Status Act also prohibits (Section 11 (1) (c), sexual harassment or harassment on any of the discriminatory grounds, by a person in a position of authority, of a student or a person who has applied for admission to or seeks to avail of services provided by an educational establishment. Section 11 (2) further provides, inter alia, that a person responsible for the operation of an educational establishment shall not permit another person who has a right to be present in, or avail of any facilities, goods or services provided at, that place to suffer sexual or other harassment at that place. Where such harassment has taken place, the person in charge will have to show that he/she took such steps as were reasonably practicable to prevent it.

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