A Balbriggan mother fighting to find a school place in September for her autistic son has accused the Government of “passing the buck”.
Linda Byrne says she fears her five-year-old Ryan will have to be tutored at home – because the nearest school that will take him is 28km away in Artane.
Ryan currently attends pre-school at an Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) unit at Skerries Educate Together, with six other children.
But the school does not have an ASD unit for primary level students and Linda and several other parents have been left in limbo for the coming school year.
She told Dublin Gazette: “If Ryan didn’t have autism he would have a school to go to in September, that is the reality of it. We need a long-term solution and the law needs to change – the Government are passing the buck.”
Linda said she is now considering legal action along with several other families in the same situation, adding: “But honestly, I shouldn’t have to force my boy on anyone.
“I’m dreading July when I have to tell Ryan (above) that he won’t be going back to his school and he won’t be able to see his friends.
“He will be devastated that he has to leave. There are no schools at all nearby that he can go to. The closest that will take him is in Artane.
“He’d have to get up at six every morning to get there. Ryan gets anxious when he travels; I can’t make him do that.”
Skerries ETNS principal Tomas Hickey said earlier this week that he had “every sympathy” for parents’ plight.
He said the board of Skerries ETNS “is intent on exploring the establishment of an ASD resource in the future” but it requires a purpose-built facility, proper training and planning.
The Department of Education said it was aware of the “emerging need” in north Dublin and where there was no placement it would consider applications under the Home Tuition Grant Scheme.
But Linda said this is no help, adding: “Finding a tutor for Ryan’s needs will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. If he moves to home schooling, he’ll regress.
“I have grant money to buy a uniform but I’ve no school to buy a uniform for. I’m disgusted by how hard I have to fight for Ryan. It’s heartbreaking.”