Section 29s bring out the fear in principals. If you aren’t in the know, a Section 29 case can be brought against a school when they refuse to enrol a child into their school and it is appealed by a parent. It can also be used when a child is being expelled. I’ll deal with both situations here.
Because of the pluralist model of education in Ireland, a parent can send their child to any school of their choice. This makes no sense. Children should simply go to their nearest school from their permanent home address full stop. Voila – the Section 29 problem is solved because if children must go to their nearest school, there is no need for any cases to be taken.
In the event of an expulsion, this should be handled by Tusla. Right now, they have to act as an advocate for the child, but this doesn’t need to be the case. If a school has exhausted all of its options with a child and can prove this, Tusla should be able to ascertain if this is the case or not. If they find the school has exhausted all options, then Tusla takes over to try and find a suitable placement, remembering it is extremely rare for a child to be expelled from a school.