Two students challenge expulsion over video of pupil snorting white substance

Leaving Certs claim decision of school board a fundamental breach of fair procedures

Last month, the students, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were informed the school board of management had decided they should be excluded from the school.

Last month, the students, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were informed the school board of management had decided they should be excluded from the school.

 

Two Leaving Cert students have launched separate High Court challenges over their expulsions from school after posting videos on social media of another pupil snorting a white powder substance, which turned out to be sugar, during class.

Details of the incident were published in an Irish tabloid newspaper, the court heard.

Last month, the students, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were informed the school board of management had decided they should be excluded from the school.

The board, which is due to formalise its decision later this month, found the students behaved in a manner that posed a serious threat to the good order and discipline of the school after a classmate asked them to make recordings on their phones of him ingesting the white powder.

The incident happened unknown to a teacher during a lesson.

A mother of one of the boys informed the school of the incident out of concerns for the safety of her son and other students.

Lawyers representing the boys say the board’s decisions involve a fundamental breach of fair procedures and constitutional justice, are disproportionate and the grounds for expulsion fly in the face of common sense.

The board also failed to take into account that the school principal recommended the teens not be expelled, it was argued.

It is also claimed the students were told to make statements without being warned those would be used against them in a disciplinary process and they could be expelled. In an effort to make the students provide a statement of events, it is claimed they were told they would not be in any trouble.

Quash

Barney Quirke SC, with Andrew Whelan BL, for one of the boys, said he is due to sit his Leaving Certificate examinations next June, is out of school now and not receiving any education in this vital year for him.

While it is intended to appeal the expulsion decision, that process would take some time to complete and, even if successful, it could be well into the new year before the student could return to school and a lot of valuable time would be lost.

His client’s special needs and good disciplinary record did not seem to be taken into account by the board, he said.

The boy had not known what substance the powder was but the student who ingested it had subsequently said it was sugar.

Despite the fact his client’s video was seen by few people, the board seemed to take the view it had been widely published and had come to the attention of persons in neighbouring schools and the Irish Sun newspaper.

Derek Shortall BL, for the second student, said his action was brought on similar grounds to the other boy although his client had had some previous disciplinary matters, including a suspension for swearing.

The boys seek various orders including quashing the decision to expel them and requiring their readmission.

They claim the school board also failed to make reasonable and appropriate provision for their educational needs.

Permission to bring the actions was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan and the matter will return before the court on Thursday.