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Headteacher Who Banned Pregnant Teen Says He Would Do Same Again

23/07/2012 16:52 | Updated 22 May 2015
Headteacher who refused to admit pregnant teen to his school has no regretsPA

A headteacher who twice refused a school place to a teenage pupil because she was pregnant has insisted he was right and would do the same again.

Padraig O'Shea's actions were branded 'disappointing by the Irish Children's Minister, after the girl's mother complained to the Children's Ombudsman about how her daughter had been treated. The head was ordered to apologise.

Instead Mr O'Shea, the former principal of St Joseph's College in Borrisoleigh, Tipperary, told the Irish Independent that there 'must be standards of morality in every school and that is the wish of 99 per cent of parents'.

The young girl had twice applied to join St Joseph's school - once when she was pregnant in 2009, and again after the birth of her baby in 2010. Both times she was refused a place.

In his exclusive interview Mr O'Shea said the children's minister and other politicians had 'gravely misjudged the moral integrity of the Irish people'.

"Parents appreciate discipline in a school," he said, "It is my duty to ensure that parents who repose confidence in me are duly rewarded, and my student body and my staff are people of the highest integrity and we shall retain our reputation in all respects. Simple as that."

Mr O'Shea retired from the school in 2009, but still works as the school manager.

The Catholic school is privately owned with over 300 students on its roll.

He says that the girl had been in three schools before applying to St Joseph's - something he said that as principal 'lead to questions'.

The ombudswoman investigating the case, Ms Logan, had said the girl had only previously been at two schools.

In her complaint, the girl had said she was left feeling 'hurt and discriminated against' after being turned down for a place at the school, saying: "I felt ashamed and embarrassed that someone could make me feel this way for being a single young mother."

Her mum added that her daughter's self-esteem had been damaged, and as a family, they had been left feeling 'stigmatised and slighted'.

But unrepentant Mr O'Shea told the Independent he would adopt the same stance against pregnant teens again and that his local community supported his actions:

"It took us an hour to get home from Mass the first day - the church is only up the road. They were holding us up and chatting to us in shops and all. They were saying congratulations," he said.

"I got 92 letters in less than three weeks and several phone calls from past pupils and parents. Teachers from other schools supported me."

"There was universal support. The ombudswoman gave me tremendous publicity, throughout Munster especially, and I thank her for it."

"They gravely misjudged the moral integrity of the Irish people, particularly parents. There must be standards of morality in every school and that is the wish of 99pc of parents."

What do you think? Is this man right to have a blanket ban on pregnant girls at his school, or does there seem to be a lack of compassion here?

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