Thursday 19 September 2019

Boy (8) expelled after hitting teachers with hurley must be re-enrolled in school, Department of Education rules

A hurley
A hurley
Four Courts

Ray Managh

The Department of Education has said that an eight-year-old boy expelled from school after assaulting five members of staff - including striking one teacher with a hurley - must be re-enrolled, the High Court heard yesterday.

The decision is being challenged, in the interests of avoiding serious risk to other pupils and staff, by the school board of management, barrister Joe Jeffers told Mr Justice Richard Humphreys.

The school principal, who said the school welcomed pupils with special needs, told the court that the boy, who cannot be identified, was involved in a very serious incident in April.

The boy began chasing another pupil around an empty classroom with a hurley - all of the other pupils had been removed for their own safety.

A female teacher, who was trying to reason with the boy, had been punched in the chest by him and when he was removed from the room he started kicking and hit both principal and teacher, who he struck in the leg with the hurley.

"It was decided to lock the other pupils back in the classroom for their safety," the principal told the court.

Four Courts

The boy had tried to gain entry by using the hurley and later a baton, punching the teacher in the face when she succeeded in taking the hurley off him, then kicking her repeatedly in the legs.

Two teachers who he had assaulted had to go to hospital for treatment, one for a suspected fractured cheekbone. The boy's mother arrived and took him from the school.

Mr Jeffers told the court that the school management board had decided to expel the boy both for his own, his teachers' and other pupils' safety. It had stood by its decision in an appeal to the board by the mother.

A Department of Education appeals committee overturned the expulsion and directed the boy to be re-enrolled in the school's Autism Spectrum Disorder class.

Mr Jeffers said the boy had been a pupil at the school for two years and had been involved in numerous incidents of gross misbehaviour and had assaulted staff members and other pupils many times.

The school claims the reasons for the departmental committee upholding the appeal of the boy's mother were irrational and flew in the face of fundamental reason and common sense, and had been predicated upon errors of law and fact.

Judge Humphreys granted the school board leave to bring a judicial review of the committee's decision.


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