Letter Received from Michael Kennedy TD RE St Michaels House Special Needs Campaign


Dear Michael


Thank you for your mail and for making representations on my behalf.

The reply sent by Mr  Ledwidge does not clarify the matter.


Mr Ledwidge refers to the fact that the school is not wheelchair friendly. The Assistant Principal of the school  together with two Board of Management members Mr Tim Chadwick (Chairperson) and Dr Anne Power acknowledged that accessibility for my son Michael is not an issue as all the facilities he would be using are on the ground floor. Therefore the accessability issue is not relevant.


He refers to the fact that “continued priority be given to the provision of an alternative school”. Given that the Chairperson of the board of directors of the school was not aware of progress on the building of the new school up until recently and had not made representations to the Department of Education in 8 months, together with board members of the school not knowing who was responsible for ensuring a new school was built- it is obvious the building of the new school is not a priority of the board.


Can he substantiate the “enormous pressure from parents and St Michaels house to get a commitment from the Department of Education” and can he confirm that the offer of a free site still holds – as the Department of Education appear to be unaware of this.


Furthermore can he explain why the plans for the new school are to accommodate a mere 65 students given that there are presently over 65 students currently seeking a place in the school and with  actual population growth in the area and projected growth this proposed level of accommodation is totally inadequate.


Can he also explain why the school this year had only 26 students attending despite having capacity for 32 students?


Can he tell us exactly how many children from the North County are having to travel long distances on a daily basis to attend schools in Baldoyle and Cabra(Kilbarrack)?


Can he confirm that he believes that it is acceptable that a profoundly mentally and physically retarded boy of 5 years of age who suffers very badly from travel sickness – should have to complete a 40 mile round trip daily to attend a school?  


The reason that my son Michael was refused entry to the school was that “Under it’s current Admission Policy the School provides educational services to children who have moderate intellectual disability only”. The reason  this policy is in place is to keep numbers down – I was told this by members of the Board of Management.


Mr  Ledwidge acknowledges that my son has been offered a place in Lusk National school – this is a mainstream school ( who incidentally are absolutely superb and so accommodating).Could you ask  Mr Ledwidge to explain the logic behind a 5 year old profoundly retarded boy being refused entry into a school for moderate intellectual disability and yet he is welcomed with open arms by a mainstream national school?


Can  you also ask Mr Ledwidge to outline the difference in the curriculum for children with profound intellectual disability versus the curriculum for children with moderate intellectual disability at ages 5 and 6?


I hope Michael this clarifies my position for you and please note that I will not rest until this matter has been resolved.


 Please let me know if you are in a position to help me with this matter.


 Yours faithfully

 Tommy Boyle







From: Michael.Kennedy@Oireachtas.ie [mailto:Michael.Kennedy@Oireachtas.ie]
Sent: 25 August 2009 09:47
To: tommy@myspecialneeds.ie
Subject: Representation for Mr Tommy Boyle, “St Michael’s House, Skerries”

Dear Tommy,


RE: St Michael’s House, Skerries


Further to my previous letter, I now attach the received reply from Mr Paul Ledwidge, CEO of St Michael’s House North.


You will note its contents and I trust it clarifies the matter for you. In the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me should you need any assistance with any other matter.


Yours Sincerely,
Michael Kennedy, TD


Dear Michael,


I refer to your email of the 13th of August re. Tommy Boyle.


St. Michael’s House Special National School in Skerries is based in a rented farmhouse, which is not wheelchair accessible.


A whole school evaluation carried out in 2005 stated that the nature of the accommodation does not facilitate the enrolment of children with significant physical disability and other complex needs and recommended that continued priority be given to the provision of an alternative school building.


Despite enormous pressure from parents and St. Michael’s House and the offer of a free site, it has not been possible to get a commitment from the Department of Education to build a school for the children in this area.


Mr. Boyle’s son has been offered a place in St. Michael’s House Special National School in Baldoyle which is imminently suitable for him and is fully accessible.


Until such time as the Department of Education provide a purpose built school for St. Michael’s House in the Skerries area, it is unfortunate that we will have to refer some children to our school in Baldoyle and many children with autism and intellectual disability travel from the North County to St. Michael’s House Special National School for children with autism in Cabra (Kilbarrack from September 2010).


I understand Mr. Boyle’s son has been accepted as a pupil in Lusk National School and St. Michael’s House will provide him with support in attending that school, within the available resources, should he wish to take up this placement.


Kind Regards,

Paul Ledwidge

Chief Executive Officer

St Michael’s House

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