Brief Department of Education & Skills Guidance Document for Parents who wish to make a Complaint about a Teacher or other staff members of a School
This guidance note aims to generally inform parents about who they should contact to make a complaint against a teacher or other staff member of their child’s school; as well as providing guidance on options they may choose to follow, likely timeframes involved and how they can appeal a decision of a school in relation to their child’s education.
The guidance provided on this page does not apply to complaints in relation to actions or decisions by schools on allegations of child protection, suspensions, permanent exclusions, refusals to enrol and those decisions which may discriminate against a child. Guidance to parents on these issues is set out overleaf.
Making a Complaint
The 1998 Education Act provides the legal framework for the delivery of education to children through recognised schools. All recognised schools are legally owned by the school patrons or trustees; and managed by a school’s Boards of Management which is also the employer of teachers in a school.
Accordingly, parents wishing to make a complaint against a teacher or school should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies. The details of these procedures for primary schools are attached in Appendix 1; and for post primary schools are attached in Appendix 2. These procedures lay out the stages to be followed in progressing a complaint and the specific timescale to be followed at each stage.
Under the 1998 Education Act, the Minister for Education and Skills provides funding and policy direction for schools. Neither the Minister nor the Department have legal powers to either:
- instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regards to individuals complaint cases, or
- to investigate individual complaints
While the Department does not pass judgment on individual complaints it can clarify for parents and pupils how their grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. If you require any further clarification please contact Parents’ and Learners’ Section, Schools’ Division, Department of Education and Skills, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Ph (090) 6484266, (090) 6484267, (090) 6484268, Fax (090) 648 4058
Appealing to the Ombudsman for Children
The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school’s complaints procedures
. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that a child has, or may have been negatively affected by the action of a school.
The office can be contacted at: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millenium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1, (Ph) 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 865 6800, E-mail: email@example.com
Complaints relating to Child Protection or Allegations of Child Abuse
The Department of Education and Skills, (including staff of the Inspectorate or National Educational Psychological Service) does not investigate allegations of child abuse. Statutory responsibility for child protection rests with the Health Services Executive. Accordingly, the most expedient way of reporting a child abuse allegation is to contact the Child Care Manager of your local Health Service Executive Office.
Any allegation of child abuse received by staff in the Department is dealt with in accordance with the Department’s Procedures for responding to allegations of Child Abuse brought to the attention of staff employed by the Department of Education and Skills
. Under these procedures the Department does not pass judgment on the allegations brought to its attention and ensures that the details of the allegation available to the Department are immediately passed on to the relevant investigatory authorities, including the relevant school authorities, the Health Service Executive and/or An Gardaí. The Department cannot guarantee confidentiality to complainants alleging child abuse as the information it receives must be passed on to the relevant authorities for investigation, including any details of the person making the allegation.
Parents who are dissatisfied with how a school investigated a child abuse allegation should report this to the Health Service Executive and/or the Ombudsman for Children.
If you wish to report an allegation of child abuse to the Department of Education and Skills, contact: Parents’ and Learners’ Section, Schools’ Division, Department of Education and Skills, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Ph (090) 648 4099, Fax (090) 648 4058. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suspension, Permanent Exclusion or Refusal to Enrol
Parents can appeal a decision by a school’s Board of Management to permanently exclude their child from its school, to suspend their child from attendance at its school for a total of 20 days in any school year, or to refuse to enrol their child. Under Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act parents may appeal these decisions by school authorities to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills. The appeal may be heard by a committee appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills for that purpose. Further information about Section 29 appeals, including the process and application forms can be obtained from the Department’s website www.education.ie
If you wish to make an appeal under Section 29 please contact: Section 29, Schools Division, Department of Education and Skills, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Phone 04493 37008, Fax 04493 37070.
Under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008 discrimination is unlawful on nine grounds: gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, membership of the Traveller community and race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin). If you feel that your child has been discriminated against in their education; and you have previously raised this matter with your school and remain unhappy with their response, you may refer the matter to: The Equality Tribunal, 3 Clonmel Street, Dublin 2. (Ph) 01 4774100 or Locall 1890 34 44 24, (Fax) 01 4774141 or (Email)email@example.com
Further information about the complaints procedure and complaint forms can be obtained at www.equalitytribunal.ie