ERST Concerned That Actions Being Pursued by Clonkeen Board of Management Not in the Best Interests
Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST) has made a decision to seek the Minister for Education and Skill’s consent to dissolve the Board of Management at Clonkeen College.
ERST, as Trustees, states that, following careful consideration and legal advice, it has regrettably been forced to take the decision because of its serious concern that actions being pursued by some members of the Board of Clonkeen show poor governance and are no longer in the best interests of ERST’s school.
Under the Education Act 1998 (Section 16) and according to the Articles of Management of Voluntary Secondary Schools (Article 30), the Trustee of a school can dissolve a school Board, subject to the approval of the Minister for Education and Skills, if it is satisfied that the functions of a Board are not being effectively discharged.
ERST, as Trustees, is concerned that the Clonkeen Board is continuing to support a High Court challenge to the sale of land adjacent to the school. This is despite confirmation of a significantly improved offer of additional land to the College, made by the Congregation of Christian Brothers and agreed by the Developer.
The additional land now available to the school means that Clonkeen College will have significantly more land than Department of Education and Skills recommendations for a school of its size. It will also have a larger area for playing facilities than over 90% of the ERST network of 97 schools has access to. In addition, Clonkeen College will receive €1.3m to develop the area as it requires.
In view of circumstances, the requirement to balance the needs of the entire network of ERST schools, and in light of possible alternative outcomes, the Board of Directors of ERST has recommended that this new offer is a good one for Clonkeen and that the Board of Management should accept it in the best interests of the pupils.
ERST has been advised that if the pending Clonkeen challenge fails, significant costs of up to €1m could be incurred by the plaintiffs. It is possible that the Board of Management of the school could become liable for some of these costs, putting the viability of the school at risk.
Six individual plaintiffs are taking the High Court challenge. They have stated that they are taking the case on behalf of the Board. The six plaintiffs are on the Board of Management at the school.
Given the legal process of dissolution now in train, ERST is limited in making subsequent statements on the matter until the dissolution process or otherwise is complete.