Why expulsion appeals are failing
In recent years parents who challenge the expulsion of their child from secondary school have lost three out of our four cases that go to a full hearing.
Expulsions of post-primary students are rare and are usually for severe or persistent breaches of discipline.
Parents have a legal right, under Section 29 of the Education Act, to appeal the decisions to a special Department of Education committee.
But the latest figures show that parents who pursue cases all the way are overwhelmingly losing the argument.
When a student is expelled, efforts are made to find an alternative place in another school or in Youthreach, a national programme that provides an alternative to mainstream education.
Legislation requires children to remain in education until they reach the age of 16, and the National Educational Welfare Board must be informed of any expulsion.
According to figures obtained from the Department of Education, there were a total of 351 appeals made against expulsion of pupils in the Irish second-level system between 2005 and 2009.
Some cases were withdrawn and others were resolved locally, but 271 went all the way to a full hearing in front of a Department of Education committee.
Of those, 203 were not upheld, while just 68 cases went in favour of the parents.
In 2007, the legislation was changed in order to require appeal committees to take into account the needs of the wider school community, and not just the pupil, when considering appeals taken against expulsion.