Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Karen Mullan has said the Education Authority (EA) must be held to account over the transport of children with special education needs to Harberton School following reports of children having to endure excessive travel times.
The Foyle MLA said:
“No child should have to experience travel times excessive travel times to and from school.
“The EA need to be held account for the failure of transport services at Harberton School.
“Whilst it is welcome that the EA have indicated that they have rectified the situation from today onwards. The fact is that these children with special educational needs, many of whom have additional health problems should never have had to endure excessive travel times.
“It is of primary importance that the EA clarify immediately whether the health of safety of these children were placed at risk and the steps that they have taken to ensure that instances of this kind never happen again.
“Children who are under the duty and care of the EA should arrive to and from school safely and within an appropriate time frame.
“These issues have to come to light at the same time as reports from parents indicating that they will have to wait until November for a decision regarding concessionary transport places.
“The school term has already started no parent or child should have to wait two to three months to find out if they are eligible for concessionary transport. The EA is effectively excluding children from concessionary places for at least half of the school term.
“Sinn Féin recognise that there are considerable financial pressures within the education system and that these pressures extend to school transport but no-one should be under any illusion that the funding crisis within education is as a direct result of Tory austerity which will continue under the Tory/DUP.
“That said, it is the duty of EA to oversee and administer school transport services. The EA should get their house in order on these matters and ensure that they communicate effectively with parents and children.
“It is important that parents and children have clarity on and confidence in school transport. The EA is failing children and families.
“I have requested an immediate meeting with the EA on these very serious matters.”