Monday 16 September 2019

Decision to expel teen with autism from school is quashed by High Court

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Aodhan O Faolain and Ray Managh

The High Court has quashed a decision to expel a teenage boy with autism from his secondary school.

Mr Justice Senan Allen ruled yesterday that the decision made in June confirming the teenager's expulsion should be remitted for a fresh consideration. The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was expelled by the school's board of management in November 2018.

That decision was appealed to the Department of Education, which appointed a three-person committee under Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act (known as a Section 29 Committee). The committee dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision to expel the teen.

It found that the school's board of management's decision was "reasonable in the view of the number of assaults and aggressive behaviours perpetrated by the teen towards himself, other students and staff at the school".

The committee said it was accepted that on occasions the teen "engaged in unpredictable, aggressive and violent behaviour in the school".

The frequency of such acts and the difficulty in identifying trigger indicators constituted a real concern for the board in ensuring it met its duty of care to the teen and other students in the school, the committee added.

Through his mother, the teen, represented by Feichin McDonagh SC and Brendan Hennessy Bl, instructed by solicitor John Rogers, claimed the committee's decision was flawed.

In judicial review proceedings against the committee and the Education Minister, the teen asked the court to have the committee's decision quashed, remitted and heard by a newly constituted committee.

The court had heard that the teenager, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of two, has difficulties with speech and language. He started secondary school three years ago but had struggled at school.

The matter will be mentioned before the court in October.

Irish Independent

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