Complaints and Section 29 Appeals
Making a Complaint
If you are not happy about something that is affecting your child at school, you can make a complaint. A complaint may be about your child being excluded from some school activities or could be about your child being bullied.
If the complaint is about the school, the complaint is made to the school itself. Complaints are not made to the Department of Education and Skills.
If the complaint is a minor issue the you may decide to first talk first to the class teacher. When a meeting is arranged have a note of the issue you want to discuss – the specific problem and what change you would like.
If the teacher cannot help or you are not happy with the teacher’s response you can organise a meeting with the school principal. Having spoken with the school principal and you are still not happy that your complaint has been resolved you may bring the complaint to the chairperson of the school’s Board of Management.
If the chairperson cannot resolve your complaint, they should bring the complaint to a meeting of the school Board of Management for their consideration. If you have not yet done so, you should put your complaint in writing. Generally, only those complaints which are in writing and signed by the parent may be investigated formally by the Board of Management.
Shortly after reaching its decision, the Board should let you know its decision on your complaint. The decision of the Board ends the school complaints process.
If you are unhappy about how the school handled your complaint you may complain to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children.
If your complaint is about a teachers’ practice and you are unhappy with the school response, you may take your complaint to the Teaching Council. A complaint to the Teaching Council can be made in writing to: The Teaching Council, Block A Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, County Kildare, W23Y7X0
Appeal - Refusal to Admit as School is Oversubscribed
A parent, or a student where they have reached the age of 18, may appeal a decision of a Board of Management to refuse to admit a student to a school due to the school being oversubscribed.
Appeals against a school for refusal to enrol a student are made under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998. As of November 2020, Section 29 of the 1998 Act was significantly revised and changed. The revised system of appeal, with important timelines, is set out below.
- Where making a Section 29 Appeal (refusal due to oversubscription) you must first request a review by the School Board of Management (BOM) of their decision to refuse a place at the school.
- You can then appeal the decision of the Board of Management to refuse a place at the school to the Department of Education
Important to Know: You cannot use information in this appeal process (school oversubscribed) that was not used with your initial application for a place in the school.
When applying for a school place make sure the application form is fully complete and that you include all relevant and needed information with your application.
Before applying for a school place you can find out about the school enrolment process from the school principal or from the school’s website. Your local SENO can also provide advice and guidance.
How the Review or Appeal is Decided
- Where the review or appeal finds a failure or mistake in relation to admission, that had an impact on the application, the failure or mistake must be corrected by admitting the student to the school or special class concerned.
- Where the failure or mistake had an impact on the student’s ranking on the waiting list the failure or mistake must be corrected by adjusting the ranking of the student on the waiting list.
There are 5 stages to the process, starting with the requirement to request a review by the Board of Management of the school’s decision to refuse. The process and timeline is set out at the link below.
In the case of an appeal of refusal to enrol due to oversubscription the appeal to the Department is examined and determined without an oral hearing.
Appeal - exclusion, suspension or refusal to admit for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed.
Under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 a parent, or a student where they have reached the age of 18, may appeal a decision of a Board of Management to
Permanently exclude a student from a school
Suspend a student from attendance at a school, for a period or periods totalling more than 20 school days in a school year.
Refuse to admit a student to the school for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed. This can include exclusion from school by means of reduced school hours or a “short school day”.
As of November 2020, Section 29 of the 1998 Act was significantly revised and changed. The revised system of appeal, including timelines, is set out below.
You can request a review by the School Board of Management (BOM) of the decision to refuse a place at the school. (optional)
You can appeal the decision of the Board of Management to refuse a place at the school to the Department of Education.
Important to Know – if appealing for reasons other than school oversubscribed:
When applying for a review or appeal the grounds for the review or appeal must be set out.
The review or appeal must be based on the implementation of the school’s admission policy and school’s annual admissions notice. Did the school follow its own admission policy and rules?
You can find out about the school’s admission policy from the school principal or from the school’s website. Your local SENO can also provide advice and guidance.
How the Review or Appeal is Decided
Each stage of the review or appeal process will consider:
- If the request for review or appeal is valid. Where the request for review or appeal is valid the review or appeal can continue.
- If there was a failure or mistake in making the decision to refuse admission and
- If the failure or mistake had an effect on the outcome of the application.
The review or appeal then decides:
- Where the review or appeal finds a failure or mistake in relation to admission that had an impact on the application, the failure or mistake must be corrected by admitting the student to the school or special class concerned.
The Appeal Process
There are 5 stages to the process, starting with a request for a review by the Board of Management of the school’s decision to refuse. The request for review by the school board of management is optional. The appeal to the Department of Education includes an in-person or oral hearing.
The Appeal Hearing
An Appeals Committee is made up of 3 people. The Appeal hearing is kept
as informal as possible. A parent is allowed to submit any information or
reports to support their case. The school may also submit evidence to
support their case. The National Council for Special Education or an Education Welfare Officer may submit a report. The Appeals Committee may invite any relevant expert to attend the hearing if necessary. The parent and the school board may be accompanied at the hearing by one or two other people nominated by them to attend. People accompanying will not be allowed to make statements at the hearing except in exceptional circumstances. If you cannot attend the appeal hearing, inform the DES immediately or the appeal could be held in your absence.
At the appeal hearing both the parent and the school state their case. The parent and the school then have the chance to respond to the other and ask questions. The Appeals Committee can also ask questions of either side or any invited person. Where practicable the Appeal Committee may support both parties to reach an agreement.
The Appeal Hearing Determination (or Decision)
The Appeal Committee makes a preliminary decision or determination. The parent, the school and agencies involved have 7 days to make observations to the Appeals Committee in relation to the preliminary decision. The Appeals Committee then makes a final decision, to uphold the appeal or not. This determination is decided on whether or not the school has followed their own stated policies (on enrolment or discipline) and whether fair procedures were followed. If the appeal is successful, the DES will direct the school to enrol your child or take them back into school or clear any suspension or expulsion from their record. Either side can appeal the determination in the courts. If you are unhappy about the committee decision you may also contact the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman.