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(Ireland) Dublin: SPED students wait 2-4 yrs for assessments; 39 schools open classes for ASD

July 30, 2020, NI, Belfast Telegraph: Tanaiste says special needs provision will not be resolved by courts or lawyers https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/republic-of-ireland/tanaiste-says-special-needs-provision-will-not-be-resolved-by-courts-or-lawyers-39410411.html Ireland The Tanaiste has said parents going to court to ensure their children with special needs get proper provision, is not going to resolve the overall issue. “Children are being left behind,” he told the Dail. Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty raised the issue of special needs assessment taking up to two years in some cases, despite it being set out in law that assessments should take place within six months. Mr Doherty said some parents are taking court action to ensure their children with special needs get assistance. Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said this approach is unfair to people who do not have the means to take court cases. He said: “I can’t comment on court cases of people I don’t know about and even if I did I could not comment on them.”… “This is not a problem that will be resolved by court cases or paying lawyers’ fees – it can be solved by allocating additional resources where they are needed.” Independent TD Denis Naughten highlighted the lack of school places for children with special needs this September. He said there is a “crisis” when it comes to providing school places for children with additional needs. “This has already spilled over into the public domain with the former minister of education Joe McHugh writing to 39 schools in south Dublin in June directing them to establish special classes for four and five-year-old children with autism, in order to accommodate children who have no school this September.” “The minister took this decision following the National Council for Special Education who had failed to convince schools in south Dublin to volunteer places for students with additional needs in their catchment area.” Mr Naughten said while the Department of Education has made efforts to accommodate children in south Dublin, the exact opposite is happening for children his constituency in Roscommon…. Mr Varadkar said the Government is “deeply conscious of the worry facing some parents in finding suitably decent school places for children with special needs.”… “Children have a right to an assessment within a six-month timeframe and that should only be longer in very exceptional circumstances. “These are cases where they are not exceptional circumstances and children are waiting up to three or four years. “That is a concern to us,” she told RTE radio. “A three- or four-year period can be a lifetime. “It means that if that child misses out on an assessment, they miss out on those services being unlocked, and it can result in them being very unhappy and not developing.”