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Parents 'no better off' after meeting over school dispute

By Lesley Houston

Published 07/04/2016

Parents and friends of pupils at De La Salle in west Belfast protest outside the school yesterday
Parents and friends of pupils at De La Salle in west Belfast protest outside the school yesterday

Parents of pupils at a Belfast school plagued by a bitter dispute said last night they were "no better off" following a meeting with the head of Northern Ireland's Catholic education body.

A committee of parents of pupils at De La Salle College in west Belfast met the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools' chief executive, Jim Clarke.

They said their call for an independent investigation into the troubled school had fallen on deaf ears. Teachers have voted for industrial action at the school, which has also been hit by mass staff absences.

Spokesman Keiran McCormick said: "We are so disappointed. He gave us a listening ear, but if he said procedure once he said it 20 times and when it comes to children it's really disheartening that procedures are being put over children.

"Our feeling is that for there to be a full and thorough independent investigation into what's been happening at the school in recent months and even years, the Board of Governors and senior management need to be stood down," he said.

He said that request was rejected on grounds of the length of time it would take, and that essentially nothing new was offered which would help repair relations within the school.

The parents' spokesman said an earlier meeting with associate principal Imelda Jordan had borne more fruit, after she promised further resources to "help stabilise the educational needs" of the children. She also gave assurances that the emotional and pastoral concerns of children would be addressed "because some of them have been very distressed by what's happening".

Mr McCormick said the committee of parents were also heartened by assurances that education minister John O'Dowd had agreed to meet them to address the saga.

The CCMS said it "remained committed to continuing the dialogue" with the school, while the parent committee will meet the Children's Commissioner today.

Belfast Telegraph

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