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School does not want to take expelled Junior Cert student back

A west of Ireland-based secondary school says it should not have to take back a junior cert student it excluded for allegedly selling illegal drugs at school, the High Court heard today.

The school's action arises out of the school's decision to suspend and then expel a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, in March of this year.

The boy, who through his mother has brought separate High Court proceedings aimed at compelling the school to re-admit him, is due to sit his Junior Cert examinations in June.  

Through his parents, the boy appealed his exclusion under Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act. That appeal was heard by a committee who ruled that while the boy's purported involvement with drugs at the school was very serious, his expulsion was not warranted.

The three member committee found the school was unable to provide definitive proof the boy supplied illegal drugs or offered them for sale, or that he admitted to supplying drugs or offering them for sale. It directed arrangements be made for the boy's immediate return to school.

In early May, a senior official with the Department of Education and Skills communicated the appeal committee's decision to the boys' parents, the school's board of management, and the National Education Board.

His barrister Feichin McDonagh SC for the school told the High Court his client has brought proceedings against the Department of Education and the three person committee challenging their decision to re-instate the student. 

Counsel said the school’s says the decision was irrational and the committee took irrelevant matters into consideration before arriving at its decision. Counsel said the school wants the Section 29 appeal reheard.

Mr Justice John Cooke, in allowing the school permission to bring its action, also granted the school a stay on the order compelling it to take the pupil back.

The judge agreed to adjourn the matter to later this week, when the action will be heard alongside proceedings brought by the teenager.

In his proceedings the boy says the school has refused to abide, and are continuing to defy, the Appeal Committee's decision, which it is not entitled to do.

The boy, suing through his mother, has brought proceedings against the school's board of management arising out of the ongoing educational damage he claims he is suffering due to the refusal to reinstate him.

His mother said in an affidavit that her son has been without school for more than three months at a critical time for his educational development.

The boy seeks a declaration from the High Court the school's Board of Management remains in unlawful breach of the direction from Department of Education to reverse the decision to expel him and to reinstate him to the school.

The teen is also seeking injunctions preventing the school from obstructing his attendance at classes, and that the school arrange for his immediate return to school. He is further seeking damages from the board of management.

Permission to bring the teen's challenge was granted by High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns earlier this month.

Online Editors