Outrage over SNA losses
The Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has described as “utterly reprehensible” the decision to proceed with cutting four Special Needs Assistants from Sonas Special Junior School in Carrigaline in August 2012.
"I have visited the school and I have seen first hand the amazing work that is done on a daily basis for these particularly vulnerable children. The demands on the staff are enormous and are increasing every year. In fact, construction work is due in the next 18 months to increase the school’s capacity, so cutting staff numbers ahead of that makes absolutely no sense," Deputy Martin said.
A Special Needs Assistant (SNA) at the school in Carrigaline told the Cork Independent,
"Last week a parent handed a letter to a representative at the Special Needs Office in the Heritage Building in Mahon. Parents, students and teachers both past and present, protested last week in Mahon. Four of our SNAs were sent letters of redundancy in April. Simon Coveney said he would do everything in his power to help us but that obviously didn't work out."
The Sonas Special Junior School in Carrigaline caters for special needs children aged three to six. In addition to the SNAs being cut, physio, occupational and speech therapists will have their hours cut at the school from September.
"The place will turn into a creche if these assistants are made redundant. Financially, this doesn't make any sense. The school here helps children take huge steps in their development," the Special Needs Assistant said.
The Chairperson of the Sonas School Board, Arthur Twomey has described the cuts as "disappointing and frustrating"
"We have been appealing this decision since it was announced in February. We will see at 25 per cent reduction of SNAs come September. In 2014 we will be opening a new school which will accommodate 42 students. For the sake of 18 months, would they just not keep the staff on. We would need to hire more staff if our enrollment doubles," Arthur Twomey said
The NCSE told the Cork Independent,
"If the school is rebuilt in two years time and additional pupils are enrolled then, the school can make applications in the usual way to the NCSE for consideration."
On Thursday last, the Sonas Junior School in Carrigaline a member of staff notified the board after learning of the NCSE's decision.
"The Department of Education nor the NCSE contacted us to let us know we were denied our appeal. We just saw it on the NSCE website," the Chairperson said.
Although the Sonas Junior School have been appealed, contacted every political party and local representatives the cuts will go ahead unless reconsidered again by Minister Ruari Quinn.
"This is not the end. The fight will continue," Arthur Twomey said.