Revealed: 'Well-funded' rural school with no pupils 'still officially opened'
A rural school that has no pupils is still officially opened, according to the Department of Education.
Scoil Naisiunta Brighde, Faughart, Co Louth hit headlines last year after parents decided to take their children out of the school due to management issues.
Last September, three teachers, a resource teacher and a caretaker were still being employed at the school, despite no pupils registering.
It's believed that the staff members have since been either redeployed or made redundant. But the school officially remains opened.
In a statement to Independent.ie, the Department of Education said:
"The decision making authority for a school closure rests with the Patron of a school, and this is subject to the agreement of the Department. Any proposal to close a school must involve consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders, parents, teachers, students and local communities and follow decisions taken at local level. The patron has not informed the Department of any decision in relation to school closure."
The Department of Education inspected the school in May 2017 and made a number of critical findings.
Parents decided to remove their children from the school as they said they feel the issues highlighted by the department are not being adequately addressed and did not like the way management was running the school.
- Read More: Revealed: Three teachers, a learning support teacher and a caretaker still employed at school - but there are no pupils
Trust in management fell so low that every single parent removed their child from the school. Previously, up to 50 children attended the rural school.
Fianna Fail Councillor Conor Keelan told Independent.ie that the rural community in Faughart is devastated.
"It has been an ongoing issue for the community for the past number of months. Just before Christmas staff were let go. The whole situation is very upsetting for the community.
"It's terrible that locals can't benefit from the very good school that was on their doorsteps. The Department of Education needs to intervene and solve this issue. All we're getting is silence. What is the point in leaving a high quality school to rot away? Is the Department of Education going to wash their hands of Faughart NS now?
"There is a lot of anger here for sure."
A local parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told Independent.ie that the community had been "robbed" of their school.
"All children have now left the school and staff have been let go. Parents were given no warning from the Department of Education that the school was closing, we just heard from the staff members who lost their jobs," they said.
"We're all devastated, this is not what we wanted. We live in such a rural area and the school was a great way for all the neighbours to socialise together. We've been robbed of our school."
The parent said that the school is "unlikely" to thrive again in the near future.
"The school was well funded and would only thrive again under new management. However I don't think the Department of Education will intervene and appoint new leadership at the school.
"The local children and the staff who lost their jobs are paying the price. It's heartbreaking."
Faughart NS has repeatedly been unavailable for comment.