Worry as student a day being expelled

Niall O'Connor

A PUPIL is expelled from secondary school almost every day here, the Herald can reveal.

New figures show that the numbers of teenagers asked to leave their school in 2009/10 rose by almost 15pc to 148 -- out of a school year of 167 days.

The number is an increase on the 128 students expelled the previous year, with the upward trend being described as "worrying" by a TD today.

And the true cost of our discipline system can be laid bare - with new figures showing that the taxpayer has footed a bill close to €1m for appeals boards.

Some 1,126 suspensions and expulsions were appealed over the past three years - costing us a staggering €974,000.

The information, released to Labour TD and former school principal Aodhan O Riordain, comes as a number of schools hit the headlines on discipline.

In the most serious case, gardai were reported to have launched a helicopter after an end-of-year prank went wrong.

Teenagers at the exclusive St Mary's College in Rathmines are facing serious disciplinary action after a male student was found half-naked tied to a pole.

The increase in expulsions and serious disciplinary action was described as "worrying" by Deputy O'Riordain.

"I think we need to reevaluate the overall system and see where we can make things more effective. The fact that there is an upward trend is definitely worrying.

"Expulsion is the last resort and it is very costly for the State and especially for those expelled," he said.

After being expelled or suspended, students can appeal the school's decision. A total of 367 appeals were made last year -- costing us €276,000. This compares to 390 appeals in 2009 and 369 in 2010.

In a statement, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said: "The National Educational Welfare Board has advised my officials that there were 128 students expelled from second level schools for the 2008/09 school year and that there were 148 students for the following school year.

"The data for 2010/2011 school year is being finalised."