28 students suspended from Co Limerick school

Teenagers at Colaiste Chiarain liked inappropriate Facebook post


TWENTY-eight students were suspended from one of Limerick ’s largest secondary schools after they ‘liked’ an inappropriate posting on Facebook about a teacher at their school.

A number of the students from Colaiste Chiarain secondary school in Croom, Co Limerick were suspended last week for two days while others, who were on work experience away from the school, began their suspension yesterday.

It is understood the controversial post featured an image and text concerning the personal life of a teacher. The item was eventually removed from the social media site but not by Facebook despite repeated requests by the school, according to the principal Noel Malone. Mr Malone defended what he described as an “unprecedented” decision to suspend the students insisting they had breached the school’s anti-bullying policy. One of the largest secondary schools in Limerick Cholaiste Chiarain has 70 teachers and 900 students.

“Obviously it’s a very sensitive matter for the people concerned but what I can say is that certain inappropriate postings on a newly created Facebook page, not part of the official school website or an individual student’s website, was brought to my attention. I was quite shocked because it involved a violation of the acceptable usage policy of the school while bordering on issues of cyber bullying and also a gross invasion of a member of the school community’s personal life and I was very concerned about it,” he said.

According to the school principal the incident was a big learning experience for the entire school community.

“I am 14 years as a principal here and we have technology from left, right and centre and even for someone as tuned in as I am I thought it was staggering to think that this was going on,” said Mr Malone.

Mr Malone insisted he thought hard before suspending the students and said the parents of those concerned were for the most part “very supportive” of his decision.

“It was a very difficult and delicate situation the vast majority [of parents] made contact and expressed their horror. A number insisted both father and mother coming in to see myself or the deputy principal to express their horror at what happened. A lot of people sent cards,” he said.

“Basically, the school would take a very strong view on this, we need to constantly be vigilant to protect all our school community and the way I would look at this is, if it was their child or themselves, they would expect the school to act swiftly and fairly when it comes to something like this,” he added.