I received a letter yesterday from Mr Pat Dunne, Local Health manager, North Dublin in response to my last email to you dated 21st August 2009.
Mr Dunne states in his letter that children with profound intellectual disability “ need intensive support to develop adaptive skills to their full potential”.
Yet he still refuses to answer the question of whether he believes that it is right and proper that a profoundly mentally and physically retarded who suffers from travel sickness should have to make a 40 mile round trip on a daily basis to attend school. Minister could I implore you to direct Mr. Dunne to give an honest answer to that question?
Mr Dunne also states that “ Special needs schools are established to provide a service to children with similar levels of dependency to ensure that their needs are met and that they are working with a peer group who have similar abilities to their own” .
Can you tell me where is the above statement written down in a policy document? St Michaels House does not have a written policy on education for special needs children- or if it has – the staff are completely unaware of it’s existence.
Furthermore the above statement flies in the face of the National Council for Special Education strategy which is to implement a plan who’s ultimate aim is that of inclusive education as set out in the EPSEN Act 2004:
“ having regard to the common good and in a manner that is informed by best international practice, the education of people with special needs shall, wherever possible, take place in an inclusive environment.”
Could I also ask you to confirm that there are places for 32 children in the St Michaels House Special Needs School in Skerries, and yet there are only 26 children attending.
Mr Dunne informed me in a telephone conversation I had with him on 27th August 2009 that the HSE could not influence policy decisions in St Michaels House- can you confirm that this is the case?
Finally – as the parent of a user of the services of St Michaels House and as a tax payer – I can recommend to you as Minister countless ways that St Michaels House could be more efficient and thus get a much better return on their quite substantial funds allocation from the HSE. I am available at your convenience if you would like to meet with me to discuss any of these matters.
Meanwhile may I again request that you personally have a bigger input into these matters.