Tuesday 16 July 2019

Private school student suspended over alleged cannabis sale takes High Court challenge

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Tim Healy

A student suspended by a Dublin private school over allegedly selling €20 of cannabis has taken a High Court challenge over a planned disciplinary hearing.

A stay applies on that hearing pending further order and the matter has been adjourned for two weeks.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted leave on Monday to lawyer to bring judicial review proceedings on behalf of the teenage student, suing through his father.

It is claimed the boy's mother contacted the school late last year expressing concerns her son may have been smoking cannabis.

 In a further contact, she told the school her son had admitted sourcing cannabis online through Instagram.

Days later, the school informed the parents it had received an allegation their son had supplied another student with cannabis.

It is claimed allegations were put to the student at a meeting involving him, his parents and the school and he made a number of admissions.

These included having smoked cannabis on weekends outside school and in woods near the school and having conversations with fellow students about smoking cannabis.

He denied any allegation he offered or supplied cannabis for sale to anyone.

Two days later, the student's father was informed his son would be suspended pending investigation of the allegations.


In an email to the school three days later, the student apologised for his actions and said he wanted to stay in the school.

The following day, the school head informed the parents by letter their son had breached the school's code of behaviour and substance use policy for having cannabis in his possession at a particular period; approaching another student in the school asking him if he wanted to buy cannabis and supplying about €20 of cannabis to that student.

If was further alleged he brought cannabis to smoke with friends which he had hidden "out the back of the school".

In view of the "very serious nature of the alleged misbehaviour" and as his continued presence in the school "represents a serious threat to the safety of students", the letter said the student would remain suspended pending the school head's investigation.

The student remains suspended and has appealed his suspension under the Education Act in which context a facilitation process is due to take place shortly.

It is claimed the parents have also been informed the school head has carried out a "thorough investigation" and, in a report, formed the view expulsion may be warranted and recommended the board of management consider that.

The student claims the head, while "recommending the sanction of expulsion, has "manifestly made the essential finding of guilt necessary to justify such a sanction".

The report, it is claimed, is based on "findings" by the head based on "incomplete circumstantial evidence" and without affording the student or his parents fair procedures or an opportunity to challenge the evidence.

His solicitor, Eileen McCabe, had written to the school voicing a range of concerns, including that the school board of management proposing to hold the disciplinary hearing was not properly constituted.  Replies from the school stated, inter alia,  no issue arose in relation to the matters raised, it is claimed.

It is alleged the student has been refused a proper opportunity to challenge the evidence against him and this is unfair and breaches fair procedures, natural and constitutional justice and the school's own code.

It is also alleged it was a breach of fair procedures for the board of management to meet last month to review the investigation carried out by the head and satisfy itself that was done in line with fair procedures.

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