School did ‘nothing’ on claim teacher had sex with graduate

Whistleblower claims teacher said he exposed himself in a sports facility

A “whistleblower” teacher has claimed he told his school principal in 2011 that a male colleague had told him of having sex with a female graduate student at his home in 2008.

The teacher claims he informed the principal after the same colleague told him in 2011 he had exposed himself to a different female graduate student “in the stands” of a sports facility.

The colleague totally rejects he either said or did those things.

Marguerite Bolger SC, for the alleged whistleblower, said "nothing was done" arising from what her client disclosed until an investigation was initiated by the school in recent months.


Her client had made disclosures under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 which affords “spectacular” protections for whistleblowers. Because he had a reasonable belief of the truth of what he disclosed, he should not be at risk of discplinary proceedings or penalty irrespective of the findings of the investigation.

The court heard there is no suggestion of any criminal conduct in relation to the alleged encounters with the two women in 2008 and 2011 and there has been no sixth-year student aged under-18 in the relevant all-girl second level school for some time.

The alleged whistleblower claims he reported both alleged revelations to the school principal in August 2011 but was not aware any action was taken as a result. When his daughter was preparing to enrol in the school, he again raised the matters with the principal in March 2015.

While the women involved may have been over-18, the teacher said he considered his colleague’s behaviour “highly inappropriate” and felt he had a moral obligation to report it.

After he raised the matters again in March 2015, he was asked to meet with the school’s solicitor and was later informed the board of management has appointed an independent investigator to investigate his disclosures, his colleague’s response to those and to make findings of fact and recommendations to the board.

The colleague has raised issues about the plaintiff’s motivation in making the disclosures and his conduct.

Ms Bolger said it was significant no complaint has been made by the colleague against her client and, while the colleague raised issues about her client's motivation, motivation was not an issue in law in deciding whether a disclosure is a protected disclosure under the 2014 Act.

Arising from the investigation, her client’s concern is there may be a finding he conducted himself in breach of discipline and his legal action was intended to prevent any adverse outcome for him as he had made protected disclosures under the 2014 Act.

He was willing to engage with the investigation but any disciplinary aspect concerning him should be taken out of it.

During counsel’s opening of her application for injunctions restraining any disciplinary procedure, Maurice Collins SC, for the school, said it was not asserting the teacher had not made an appropriate disclosure but was concerned Ms Bolger was trying to introduce new matters. Given the allegations and counter-allegations, there must be an investigation which could result in a range of findings, he said.

After exchanges between counsel and Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, the judge remarked there was not that much between the sides, both agreed there had to be an investigation, and they should discuss matters before the case resumes on Friday.

Earlier, Ms Bolger said, while her client had no reason to believe the women allegedly referred to by the other teacher were not over 18, her client considered, if the alleged remarks of his colleague were true, they raised child protection issues for pending students of the school.

In his action, the plaintiff teacher wants a declaration the disciplinary proceedings fail to have regard to the 2014 Act. He is also claiming damages, including exemplary damages, on grounds including alleged breach of contract and alleged intentional infliction of emotional damage.

Ms Bolger said a significant part of her case relies on the 2014 Act which is “very much centre stage”.

The Irish legislation goes significantly further than the UK legislation and in particular the UK requirement of good faith does not apply in the Irish Act, she said. The Act was not the sole element of her case, she added.

The court was told the plaintiff was aware of the school’s child protection policy and made the disclosures in August 2011 because he believed there was repeated inappropriate behaviour of a member of staff. The plaintiff had been friends with the other teacher but felt obliged to disclose.

He was never advised any action was taken and found that “upsetting and wrong”, he said in court documents. He believed the school did not have the required procedures in place to assist employees who wish to make protected disclosures.

After he raised the matter again in 2015, he received a letter from the school seeking more details and welcomed the matter was “now being taken seriously”.

Ms Bolger said, in its investigation, the school seems determined to proceed to determine if there was serious misconduct. Her client should not be at risk of any adverse disciplinary finding in this process,  as whatever goes on between the school and the other teacher was for them.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times