Thursday 19 September 2019

School challenge decision to re-enroll boy (8) expelled for assaulting five staff members, striking one with hurl

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Stock picture

Ray Managh

An eight-year-old boy who was expelled from a country school after assaulting five members of staff - striking one with a hurl - must be re-enrolled, according to the Department of Education, the High court heard today.

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

The school principal, who stated that 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 last when the boy began chasing another pupil around an empty classroom with a hurley stick. All of the other pupils had been removed from the room 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 had started kicking and hitting both the principal and the 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. 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 getting the hurley off him, then kicking her repeatedly in the legs.

After attempting to set off the fire alarm he emptied the presses in the hall and threw things around the place. Two teachers, who he had assaulted, had to go to hospital for treatment, one for a suspected fractured cheek bone. The boy’s mother arrived and had taken him from the school.

Mr Jeffers, who appeared with Dublin-based solicitor AJP McDonald, 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 boy’s mother.

He told Judge Humphreys a Department of Education appeals committe had overturned the school board’s expulsion decision and directed that the boy’s mother be contacted immediately and that he be re-enrolled in the school’s Autism Spectrum Disorder class.

Mr Jeffers said the school board was seeking leave to judicially review the decision of the appeals committee of the Department of Education and would be asking the court to quash its decision directing the re-enrolment of the boy.

He said the boy had been a pupil at the school for the past two years and had been involved in numerous incidents of gross misbehaviour, having on many occasions assaulted staff members and other pupils.

The school claims that the reasons for the departmental committee having upheld 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 o bring a judicial review of the committee’s decision.

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