Tuesday 17 September 2019

Teens fight expulsion over video of 'snorting powder'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Tim Healy

Two teenage boys have launched High Court challenges against their expulsion from school after they posted videos on social media of another pupil snorting a white powder during class.

Details of the incident, which the court heard involved sugar, were published in an Irish newspaper, the High Court heard. Last month, the students, who cannot be identified, were told the board of management had decided they should be excluded from the secondary school they attend.

The board, due to formalise its decision this month, found the students had behaved in a way that posed a serious threat to good order and discipline after a classmate asked them to record him with the powder.

The incident was during a lesson while a teacher was present. The videos were posted on social media, but are not believed to have been seen by many people. The school was made aware of the incident by one of the boys' mothers out of her concerns for her son and other students' safety.

Lawyers representing the boys say the board's decisions represent a fundamental breach of fair procedures and constitutional justice, are disproportionate and the grounds for their expulsion fly in the face of common sense. The board also failed to take into account the fact the school principal recommended the teens not be expelled, they say.

It is also claimed the students were told to make statements without being warned they would be used against them in a disciplinary process and could be expelled. In an effort to make the students provide a statement, it is also claimed they were told they would not be in any trouble.

Barney Quirke SC, for one of the pupils, said he was making the application because his client is due to sit his Leaving Cert in June. He was already out of school and not receiving any education in what is a vital year. He said his client has special needs and has a good disciplinary record, which did not seem to be taken into account.

Derek Shortall BL, for the second student, said his client's action was brought on similar grounds, although his client had some previous disciplinary matters, including a suspension for swearing.

Permission to bring the actions was granted by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan. The matter will return before the court tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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