The father of a first-form girl left in educational limbo yesterday launched a High Court challenge over being denied a place at an east Belfast high school now attended by her sister.
A judge was told the refusal, based on criteria of having siblings as past or present pupils, was unfair.
Judicial review proceedings were brought against an admissions tribunal decision on the 11-year-old’s application for Ashfield Girls’ High School.
Her family, who cannot be identified, want her to be educated there along with an older sister who now attends after moving from another school. Their position is intensified by medical issues involving one of them.
But although it was confirmed in April that the older girl would be starting at Ashfield this term, her younger sister was refused a first form place. Admissions criteria includes giving preference to those with a sister who currently attends or did so in the past.
Counsel for the family, Sean Mullan, claimed it was unfair of the board of governors and the appeals tribunal to “ignore” the unusual circumstances of having an older sister about to transfer to the school.
The court heard that the younger girl is currently without a school.
Paul McLaughlin, responding for the education board appeals tribunal, acknowledged the refusal decision came after confirmation the older sister was to move to Ashfield. He expressed “enormous sympathy” for the girl.
Mr Justice Treacy said the case seemed “exceptionally technical”. Adjourning the case until Monday, the judge asked for more information on the exceptional circumstances application.