A school in Cork City has refused a head teacher to ask the Children’s Ombudsman to intervene as he announced plans for protests which could cause traffic jams.
The board of Cork Educate Together NS on Grattan St has written to the ombudsman’s office asking for an investigation into why its application for headteacher was rejected in the context of a policy that reserves the principal evaluations at schools that already have a principal.
In the meantime, the board is planning physical protests outside the school.
“The board doesn’t want to go down this road but thinks we don’t have much choice left if we want to ensure the health and safety of our community,” he said.
The council has sanctioned a form of protest, which will begin on May 16, which will involve parents and children spending 20 minutes each school morning, between 8.30am and 8.50am, walking back and forth on the pedestrian crossing in front of the school gate.
“It will be done in silence to reflect that all communication and dialogue has been exhausted at this point,” he said.
The protest has the potential to cause a traffic jam during the morning rush hour on the city’s strategic thoroughfare.
The school of 210 students, created in 1987, has been campaigning since its foundation for reinforced safety measures on the road.
Traffic volumes on Grattan St have increased significantly following the resurfacing of the road in 2014 and the rerouting of much traffic from the town center as part of the town center movement strategy along the street in preparing for the controversial introduction of time-regulated bus lanes on St Patrick’s Street in early 2018.
The school applied in 2020 for a principal, but was told policy dictates that such security assessments are reserved for schools that already have principals.
Following a council assessment last year, some minor safety improvements have been made to the pedestrian crossing, but concerns remain.
There were several near-misses between children and vehicles on the crosswalk, with motorists crossing while children were crossing.
The school now records these incidents and reports them daily to gardaí at Bridewell Garda station to ensure they are recorded on the Pulse system.
Principal of the school, Maura O’Riordan, who has taught at the school for 20 years, said there had always been problems with road safety outside the school, but they were have intensified in recent years.
She said some children have felt the breeze from cars passing them, while last week one child narrowly escaped being hit by a reversing car.
“The protest was organized because all communication channels were exhausted,” she said.
“This is a living, breathing urban community. We want families to move in, we want children to be raised in this neighborhood.
A €50,000 proposal to build the footpath with the aim of slowing traffic was prepared for consideration by councilors last November, but funding has yet to be approved.