Thursday 19 September 2019

School fights order to take back boy who was expelled

Children were locked in for safety as pupil (8) hit teacher with hurley

The Four Courts, Dublin
The Four Courts, Dublin

Ray Managh

A schoolboy who was expelled after assaulting five members of staff - striking one with a hurley - must be re-enrolled, according to the Department of Education, the High Court heard yesterday.

That decision, in the interests of avoiding serious risk to the safety of other pupils and staff, is being legally challenged 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 the boy (8), who cannot be identified, was involved in a very serious incident in April, when he 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 on 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 he assaulted had to go to hospital for treatment, one for a suspected fractured cheek bone. The boy's mother had arrived and taken him from the school.

Mr Jeffers, who appeared with Dublin-based solicitor AJP McDonald, told the court 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 Mr Justice Humphreys that a Department of Education appeals committee had overturned the school board's expulsion decision and directed that the boy's mother be contacted immediately and 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.

It would be asking the court to quash its decision directing the re-enrolment of the boy.

He said the boy had been a pupil 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 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.

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

Irish Independent

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