School fails to prevent boys returning pending legal action over video
Posted on 31st July 2019 at 21:21
Pupils face expulsion after social media post showing classmate snorting white powder
A school has lost its appeal over the granting of injunctions allowing two Leaving Cert students return to school pending the full hearing of proceedings aimed at preventing their expulsions.
They face expulsion over the videoing and posting on social media of a classmate snorting a white powder, which turned out to be sugar, during a class.
The students, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, got the injunctions against the school’s board of management last year.
The orders, granted by the High Court’s Mr Justice Max Barrett, permit them to attend class and continue their education for the academic year pending the final determination of their proceedings aimed at preventing their explusions over the sugar incident.
Details of the incident were published in an Irish daily newspaper.
The board of management appealed to the Court of Appeal against the injunctions permitting the students stay at school.
In its judgment on Wednesday, the three judge court rejected the appeal.
The president of the court, Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Ms Justice Máire Whelan and Ms Justice Caroline Costello, said Mr Justice Barrett’s approach to the application was “the correct one.”
Mr Justice Birmingham said the High Court’s analysis of the case was “a careful one and an appropriate one”.
He agreed with the conclusions of the High Court that refusing the injunctions meant a greater risk of an injustice.
He accepted the two boys had established a strong arguable case that the decision to expel them was irrational.
The judge also court noted both students have appealed the expulsion decisions to the Department of Education.
Those appeals were considered before an independent three-person committees under Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act - a Section 29 Committee).
In the case of one of the students, the committee had reversed the decision to expel him, which it was claimed by his lawyers rendered the matter moot or pointless.
The other student had lost his Section 29 appeal but remained in the school on foot of the High Court order.
The section 29 committee’s decision confirming the second boy’s expulsion has been challenged in separate judicial review proceedings.
Mr Justice Birmingham said, in what was an unusual and unsatisfactory state of affairs, the High Court should have made clear in its decision that its intervention was limited to the duration to the determination of the matter.
The determination, he added, would have come about either by way of the decision on the full challenge against the expulsions or the appeals process coming to a conclusion.
The students sued after they were informed, following an investigation of the incident, the school had made “a preliminary decision” they should be excluded, a decision it had since confirmed.
The students say those decisions were made in breach of fair procedures and are disproportionate and flawed.
Mr Justice Barrett had granted them injunctions after finding they had made out a strong case and the balance of justice favoured the granting of the injunctions.
It was of significance the court was “not dealing with students who had taken any illegal substance” but with two schoolboys who “engaged in an unplanned, impromptu occurrence as it unfolded before them”, he said.
The video had been shared on a social media platform with a limited number of participants and it was never alleged they had consumed something illegal, he added.
Share this post: