Two sets of parents - whose children have missed up to 80 per cent of their schooling since Christmas - were warned that the fathers would face up to a month in jail if their offsprings’ attendances were not perfect by March 20.
Sami and Niculaig Muntean - brothers with addresses in Meadowbrook, Willow Park, Athlone - and their respective wives Maria and Angela were summonsed before the District Court this week (February 27 ) by the National Welfare Educational Board on account of the chronic truancies of their children.
In the case of Sami and Maria, the court was told that since their last court appearance on December 12 on this issue, their named daughter’s attendance record improved from zero to 72 per cent, but that their son has “an absence rate of 80 per cent”.
“That’s very poor,” said Judge Seamus Hughes, and he asked for any explanation.
Through a court-appointed translator, the Munteans claimed their son had chickenpox, and had to take 10 days off.
However the judge noted in the report handed in by the truancy officer that: “The doctor’s cert is only for three days”.
“This is now a serious matter. What excuse have you for the other 25 days?” asked the judge.
He was told it was a similar for this boy’s cousin - the son of Niculaig and Angela - whose attendance their solicitor, Mr Paul Connellan also described as: “very poor”.
He explained the cousins were “very close” and claimed the difficulties with the second boy were because his parents were trying to move to Cashel, Co Tipperary.
“The [National Educational] Welfare Board has made an appointment with both families on March 6 to iron out the problems,” said Mr Connellan, who asked the judge if he could finish up the case on the day.
“If you want me to finalise [this case] today then one or other of these parents is going to prison,” the judge warned.
“I’m now saying here in open court that if there’s one day missed without being accounted for, both fathers are going to prison for two months,” said Judge Hughes.
‘Eh, the maximum is one month, judge,” corrected Mr Connellan.
“I want no hiccups or excuses for March 6. You will go to prison if your sons do not go to school each and every day. No more warning,” concluded the judge, before adjourning a final decision until March 20.