Sunday 11 December 2016

Leaving Certificate student with dyslexia wins High Court order overturning State Examinations Commission's refusal to give him adult 'reader'

Tim Healy

Published 27/04/2016 | 17:54

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A Leaving Certificate student with dyslexia has won a High Court order overturning the State Examinations Commission's refusal to give him an adult "reader" to help him understand the exam papers.

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Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said the decision of the Commission's Independent Appeals Committee refusing the student's application left him "none the wiser" about the reason for refusal.

The failure to give any understandable rationale for refusing was "all the more difficult to comprehend" when an earlier refusal of a reader was quashed for "precisely the same reason" (failure to give reasons), he said.

While the committee appeared to assert in legal documents its second refusal was due to the student's failure to explain a disparity in results obtained by him in three reading tests, he could have given an explanation had he been told one was required, the judge added.

The committee's assertion he was expected to provide an explanation was "all the more startling" as the application form "explicitly prohibits it", the judge added.

He was giving his decision on a second legal action by the student brought in an effort to get a reader assistant.

The boy, when aged nine, attended a special school for children with dyslexia of higher or average intelligence but lesser literacy skills than 98 per cent of their peers.

He later returned to mainstream school and his efforts to keep up involved attending after school study five days weekly.

Under the Commission's “reasonable accommodation” policy, students who believe certain permanent or long-term conditions may affect their examinations performance can apply for special arrangements.  Of some 116,000 students who sit State exams annually, about 18,000 seek such accommodation.

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