Board of management’s treatment slammed

by Rebecca Ryan

Parents at Clonkeen College have lashed out at the treatment of the school’s board of management.
The Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST), which is the patron of 96 primary and secondary schools including Clonkeen College, sparked controversy last year when it came out that it decided to sell 7.5 acres of pitches at the Deansgrange school for a price tag reported to be around €18 million.

Clonkeen College is challenging that decision and the board of management (BOM) has been told it will be axed over their resistance to the plan.
In a statement, the ERST accused board members of showing “poor governance” and failure in acting in the “best interests of ERST’s school” and they are now seeking the Education Minister’s consent to dissolve the board.

The Parents’ Association of Clonkeen College told Dublin Gazette they “strongly disagree” with that statement.
“It is our view that the Board of Management have acted in the best interests of the school and its students at all times. In fact, this Board, our Board are acting in the best interests of the entire school community. As a parents’ association we feel the dissolution of the Board of Management will have a profoundly negative and destabilising effect on the boys.

Not only does it throw into question the smooth running of the school, but it diverts attentions away from the boys’ need to concentrate on their studies. In a Secondary school the run up to exams can be stressful enough as it is without this being thrown into the mix.

“In our opinion this Board of Management are exemplary role models for our sons. They have seen an injustice and have stood up for what is right.”
The association said they were “completely and utterly dismayed” by the proposal to dissolve the board, which they claim to be a “very deliberate act to frustrate the activities of the BOM, in seeking to retain the playing fields at Clonkeen College.”

The ERST said it is concerned that the Clonkeen Board is “continuing to support a High Court challenge to the sale of land adjacent to the school, despite confirmation of a significantly improved offer of additional land to the College, made by the Congregation of Christian Brothers and agreed by the developer.”

The trust added that additional land now available to the school means that Clonkeen College will have significantly more land than Department of Education and Skills recommendations for a school of its size.
“It will also have a larger area for playing facilities than over 90% of the ERST network of 97 schools has access to. In addition, Clonkeen College will receive €1.3m to develop the area as it requires.”

The Parents’ Association say that they stand firmly with its board of management and they “implore Minister Richard Bruton to reject dissolution” of their Board of Management.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education and Skills told Dublin Gazette that the Minister is in the process of deciding on the matter.
“The Patron of Clonkeen College, ERST, has sought approval to dissolve the Board of Management of the College in accordance with Section 16 of the Education Act 1998.

The statutory process of dissolution is underway in which the Minister for Education and Skills must make a decision having considered the submissions made. It would not be appropriate to comment on the matters that are related to the dissolution.”

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