Parish priest sends students to another school

Parents of three Melbourne children, including one who has a learning disability, are claiming discrimination after their parish priest informed them their children would be finishing up at the parish school and that he had enrolled them in another school.

The Age reports that in a letter delivered to parent Vida Benic's home on Wednesday night, Fr Ian Ranson from St Martin de Porres Primary School said the children - aged 12, nine and seven - would be finishing up at the Laverton school this week and that the school had enrolled them at another local Catholic school from Monday.

"I have decided in the best interests of both parties to insist that your family take an opportunity for a new beginning in our parish education system," Father Ranson wrote in the letter.

"The children's attendance will commence on Monday 21st May. I have arranged with the principal (of the new school) for your children to be accepted."

Anti-discrimination consultant Julie Phillips said she had never seen such a case.

"I've never come across a letter like that," she said. "I've never heard of a person having the right, without the parent's knowledge or agreement, to enrol them in a different school. They are virtually being expelled."

Ms Phillips said she suspected that Mrs Benic's eldest son, 12-year-old Stefan, who has a severe language disorder, was the reason the school had told the siblings to leave. The school's motto is "love and service to all".

Mrs Benic wrote to the school yesterday requesting that Stefan, who is due to leave at the end of the year when he completes grade 6, be allowed to remain at the school. She had previously lodged a claim of disability discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Commission trying to get the school to better accommodate her son. She later withdrew the claim.

Correction: According to the Catholic Education Office, the children were to be transferred to another Catholic school and not a state school as reported earlier. CathNews apologises for the error.

Catholic school ousts siblings without consent (The Age, 18/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Martin de Porres Primary School, Laverton

18 May 2007

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