Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue has called on Junior Minister for Education Ciaran Cannon to attend a public meeting of parents whose children are affected by changes to the Closed School Rule when he visits Donegal in July.
 
Deputy McConalogue said: “At a recent public meeting in Malin National School it was announced that Minister Cannon was willing to meet with a delegation of parents as part of a review of proposed changes to school transport arrangements under the Closed School Rule, due to take effect in September.
 
“However, we see from his comments this week that the Minister is determined to proceed with changes to the Closed School Rule policy despite written promises given by his party to parents before the general election.
 
“Since the Minister has decided to proceed with the cuts instead of engaging with families affected to find an alternative solution, I feel there is an onus on him to now attend a public meeting with parents affected by the cut and explain why his party is reneging on their pre-election promise to suspend these measures.
 
“As a result of the Minister’s decision to proceed with changes to the Closed School Rule, several children who were previously eligible for school transport under the School Transport Scheme will no longer qualify from September and will only be able to avail of school transport if they pay a concessionary rate fare and if there are spare places on their school bus.  
 
“Further changes to the Closed School Rule are proposed for September 2012, which will have even wider implications for schools. It is proposed that transport will be removed from any new pupils if the school their family would normally attend is not the closest school to their home.  This could lead to a situation whereby families would be forced to reconsider which school they send their child to and would have knock-on effects for student numbers at the school they normally would have attended.
 
“I believe that the Minister simply must engage immediately with parents and schools to find a solution that would avoid this scenario.  He cannot be allowed to take the approach of ploughing on with proposed cuts in direct breach of the promises his party gave just four months ago,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.