Court challenge to decision not to supply tutor for child with autism
on 25/02/2013 18:40:59
The action has been brought by Susan Dunne, who last year sought to hire Ms Louise Tully as tutor for her two year old son Joshua who has autism spectrum disorder.
Under the Home Tuition Scheme, for the provision of early childhood education, Mrs Dunne must identify and recruit a suitably qualified person to provide education for her son.
That person must be then approved by the Department of Education and Skills, who will pay for the service.
Ms Tully would provide Joshua with 10 hours education per week until he turned three years of age, and 20 hours after he turned three. Ms Tully was hired due to her qualifications and experience.
However last January the Department informed Ms Dunne that Ms Tully was not a suitable tutor.
No reason was given by the Minister as to why the tutor was deemed unacceptable.
In her High Court action Mrs Dunne is challenging the Minister's decision on grounds including that the decision is unlawful was contrary to fair procedures and it interferes with her son's right to education.
She says the tutor she hired appears qualified when Ms Tully's experience is set against the criteria set down by the Department as to who qualifies as a tutor under the scheme.
In an affidavit to the court Mrs Dunne said that she could not understand how the department's decision in regards to the tutor was reached. It appeared to her that the application was not properly considered, she added..
In her action Mrs Dunne of Corlurgan, Bailieborough, Co Cavan is seeking various orders including one quashing the Minister determination of January 16th last that the nominated tutor was not suitably qualified.
Derek Shortall Bl for Mrs Dunne told the court that his client went to considerable difficulties before she was able to recruit the tutor. He told the court that it accepted that early intervention is required to held children with autism.
In this case "precious, precious, valuable time was ebbing away" because his clients were "stuck with this," counsel said.
His client wrote to the department asking it to reverse its decision, however no response has been forthcoming, counsel added.
Leave to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Michael Peart today. The judge made the action returnable to date in March.