Some of those in attendance at a public meeting last June
The Dublin Archdiocese has defended its role in the Brannoxtown National School controversy and says it is willing to meet the Save Our School Brannoxtown (SOSB) group to see if they can reach a solution.
It was responding to SOSB's accusation that it failed to act in the face of rapidly declining enrollment numbers at the school, where there are currently no pupils enrolled.
In a statement, the Archdiocese pointed out a March 2016 Whole School Evaluation Report was done in consultation with parents, staff and the Board of Management.
“The Inspector's report records a high satisfaction rating among parents with the standard of teaching and learning in the school,” it said.
“In June of 2017, the Education Secretariat of the Archdiocese was notified by the principal of Brannoxtown NS of a serious issue regarding the withdrawal of most of the pupils from the school,” it said.
It said pupils were transferring to Halverstown NS, St. Brigid’s NS, Kilcullen, and Two Mile House NS.
“Representatives of the patron, from the Education Secretariat, met the Board of Management. Our representatives from the Education Secretariat attended a public meeting in an attempt to resolve the situation in Brannoxtown NS,” it said.
A working group was set up to meet parents and prospective parents in an attempt to have at least 15 children for September 2017.
The patron explained a new chairperson of the Board was appointed and vacant positions for two community representatives (notified in June 2017 to the patron) were filled. However, it said in July 2017, two parent representatives notified the Education Secretariat they were withdrawing their children from September 2017 as there were no pupils enrolled at that time.
They subsequently resigned from the Board in August 2017. On August 31 the outgoing chairperson told the Diocese there were three pupils enrolled for September 2017. The chairperson and the remaining members of the board then resigned.
It said, in consultation with the Department of Education, it decided to allow the school to re-open, in the hope there would be more enrolments. In September 2017, a manager was appointed for 2017/2018.
The patron pointed out St. Brigid’s NS and Halverstown NS informed parents that if they wished to transfer back to Brannoxtown, they would be happy to facilitate this, but no-one took up that offer.
In late November, the three remaining pupils moved. At that time, the Department and the Diocesan Education Secretariat arranged for the principal to take up a panel position in another school, as well as continuing her principal duties in Brannoxtown.
“The employee rights of the principal and the other teachers remain intact, including those teachers on career break, and they are still members of the staff of Brannoxtown School,” it said. It pointed out the principal is preparing for the re-opening of the school in September 2018.
It said there is a proposal from the Department, under discussion, to have a common enrolment policy for the three local schools for September 2018 due to the demand for places in the District.
“The Single Manager and the Principal of Brannoxtown NS are monitoring the situation on a daily basis,” it said.
When asked about the status of the school, the Department of Education said any decision to close a school must involve consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders.
“The patron has not informed the Department of any decision in relation to school closure,” it said.