Parents of suspended Leaving Cert pupils to take legal action
THE PARENTS of more than 100 former pupils at a Dublin fee-paying school say they will take legal action over the suspension of nearly the entire Leaving Cert class shortly before the exam this year.
Some 113 of the 120 sixth-year pupils at the High School in Rathgar were suspended on May 18th after an incident on May 4th in which they locked themselves into the sixth-year common room for 55 minutes and played dance music.
No alcohol or drugs were consumed during the incident, which the principal Andrew Forrest described in a letter to parents as a “pre-planned disturbance” and “an act of gross misconduct”.
In a text message sent at 8pm on May 18th the pupils were told their lessons had been concluded for the year, and they could attend the school only by appointment until the Leaving Cert exam started on June 6th. There were 2½ days of lessons remaining.
All schools are legally obliged to have a code of conduct. According to the High School code, the parents of any pupil involved in a serious breach of discipline “will be invited to a meeting with the year head and the principal or deputy principal . . . The details of the breach will be read to the parents and the pupil’s contribution to the school . . . in the past will be taken into account”.
It says there may be a meeting of a serious disciplinary committee and the decision will be communicated to parents.
“There will be in the case of long suspensions a right of appeal to the appeals committee of the board of governors.”
Several parents who have spoken to The Irish Times say no appeals were heard and “just one or two parents” had meetings with Mr Forrest.
Tony Conroy, whose son was among those suspended, said the punishment was “completely excessive and caused huge upset and derailment when these children should have been supported in focusing on the exams”.
“Our children’s reputations have been damaged. There was a total lack of consideration for their situation. These kids were doing their Leaving Certificate. The community they had been loyal to for six years just threw them out without a hearing.”
A Department of Education spokeswoman said if a school did not comply with its code of conduct it left itself open to a departmental appeal process and possible legal action.
Mr Forrest did not respond to phone calls or emails from The Irish Times.