The following piece is taken from the web-site of the Department of Education and can be accessed in full and unedited there at www.education.ie
It is natural that a parent or guardian may from time to time have questions and concerns about their child’s experience in their school. This information aims to answer the questions commonly asked by parents. This information may also include students over 18 years of age.
This information is not intended to be used as an interpretation of legislation and is not prescriptive. The information is provided to inform parents about who they can contact when they have questions or concerns about their child’s experience in school.
The Department provides guidance to parents and students on the operation of the schools’ complaint procedures. Complaints can be about matters with staff or the school itself, e.g. class sizes, yard supervision, school transport, underperformance/competence issues or if you feel that you have been treated unfairly when you did complain.
Should I contact the Department about my complaint?
No, Under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by the school Board of Management, on behalf of the school patrons or trustees (known as the management authority). It is the management authority that employs the school’s teachers and other staff members. The school principal manages the school on a day to day basis.
As the Department has no role in the employment of staff in schools or schools’ day to day management, a complaint about the child’s school and its staff should be made to the school itself.
Accordingly, whereas the Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, the Department does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases.
Who do I contact when making a complaint about my child's school?
If you're worried about your child at school or you have a complaint about the school, your child's class teacher (or tutor) is the best person to approach first for an informal discussion.
If your complaint is about a staff member (excluding the principal), you should contact the school principal.
Complaints regarding the principal should be directed to management authority of the school.
How do I contact my child's teacher or school principal?
They will usually be in the classroom during the day, but you can leave a message with the school office asking the teacher/principal to contact you.
What if I am not happy with the teacher’s response?
If the teacher can't help, or if you are not satisfied with their response, you can talk to the principal of the school (depending on your complaint, a school’s own procedures may ask you to speak to another member of staff before speaking with the principal). You should be able to arrange a meeting or a telephone conversation through the school’s office.
What if I am not happy that the school principal has resolved my problem?
If you can't resolve a problem informally, the school should have a formal complaints procedure that you can follow. This procedure should lay out what you may have to do and how long it should take the school to deal with your complaint.
The standard complaints procedures have been agreed between school management authorities and teacher unions.
An outline of the Complaints Procedure which has been adopted in Powerstown School is provided in this section of the school’s web-site. Please go to section titled Making a Complaint.
Typically, if having spoken with the school principal, you are still not happy that your complaint has been resolved you may contact the chairperson of the school’s management authority.
If the chairperson cannot resolve your complaint they should discuss the matter at a meeting of the management authority. Check with the chairperson if you should put your complaint in writing. Generally, only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents may be investigated formally by the management authority.
Shortly after reaching its decision, the management authority will let you know its decision on your complaint. This decision ends the school complaints process.
Can anybody else investigate my complaint?
In accordance with the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children provides an independent and impartial complaint handling service. Under section 9 of the Act, the Ombudsman for Children can investigate complaints relating to the administrative actions of a school recognised by the Department of Education and Skills provided the complainant has firstly and fully followed the school’s complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action complained of has or may have adversely affected the child.
More information about the Ombudsman for Children can be obtained on www.oco.ie.
Address: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1
Phone: 01 865 6800 Free-phone: 1800 20 20 40
Who deals with teacher and principal under-performance and competency matters?
This is a matter for the school management authority. The relevant information can be accessed by clicking the following links:
Under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008 discrimination is unlawful on nine grounds: gender, marital status, family status,sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, membership of the Traveller community and race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin).
If you feel that your child has been discriminated against in their education and you have previously raised this matter with your school and remain unhappy with their response, you may refer the matter to The Equality Authority, Birchgrove House, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary or freephone 1890 245 545.
Further information about the complaints procedure and complaint forms can be obtained at www.equality.ie.