‘We had to take a stand’: Mother of incorrect Leaving Cert points student

Rebecca Carter’s mother spoke of the financial risks following High Court case

Rebecca Carter of Castlebridge in Wexford leaves the High Court, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Rebecca Carter of Castlebridge in Wexford leaves the High Court, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

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The mother of Rebecca Carter, the student who won a High Court case against the State Examinations Commission after her points were incorrectly counted, has spoken of the big risk the family took to pursue the legal case.

The student has been allowed to take up a place in veterinary medicine in UCD after the court directed the commission on Wednesday to correct her points tally by the end of the week.

Annmarie Carter said the family had to think long and hard before making the decision to take the case, as it could have had serious financial implications for them

“We’re just a normal family, it’s not that we had the means,” she told her local radio station South East Radio.

“We sought legal advice and they said to us ‘you have a very strong case for Rebecca, this can go either way, you can win your case and the respondent will pay court fees, you can lose your case and there are serious implications of fees involved.’

“We had to think long and hard about that, but we said, you know what if we really believe that we have a case when our legal team did, us as a family, together with Rebecca thought everybody says that’s just the system don’t change it, we decided, Becky has this opportunity now to stand up for her rights and battle it out come what may.

“We’ll worry about the money when the time comes, but be under no illusion we do not have millions of euro.”

‘Phenomenal’

She said her daughter was “phenomenal” and the whole family was so proud of her.

“We cannot afford the challenge. We would be in a very different boat had the judge not ruled in Rebecca’s favour, thankfully justice was served.

“I don’t know how we would have come up with the money. But that was the risk we had to take. For Rebecca and for future students so that they don’t have to go through what Rebecca went through.”

Rebecca herself explained the background to the case to the Morning Mix radio show: “Last year I was 12 points short, which is the equivalent of two per cent because I had received 88 per cent in four of my exams, if any of those had been 90 that would have been those 12 points, this year I was 6 points short of first round offers and then for second round it went down by 5 points, so I was one point short.

“I got 554 points in the Leaving Cert, had the mistake not been made I would have received 566 points which surpasses the amount for first round.”

She added that in his ruling on Wednesday, High Court judge Mr Justice Richard Humphreys recommended that the SEC change their policy and that the appeal process will be completed before the academic year starts.

“Hopefully they will take those recommendations on board so no other student will have to go through what I did, he warned them that he doesn’t want to see them there next year with the same case.”

Human error

Her mother added that they could understand human error, but they could not understand the bureaucracy of the SEC and why they could not rectify the mistake.

“Everybody that we spoke to at the SEC said ‘our hands are tied, we cannot just open the script and take the 10 marks deficit and add it to the front page and increase the grade from a H2 to a H1’.

“For everybody else it’s the simplest thing in the world, to say ‘sorry, we made a mistake there’, but it couldn’t be done. They would not do it outside their normal appeal process.”

She told of how the previous year her daughter had been 12 points short for veterinary science which was very disappointing after the amount of work she had done.

The family said if that was what she was determined to do they would support her but that she would have to “knuckle down for one more year, hard as it is, put the head down and go for it again next year and we supported her throughout the whole year. She’s phenomenal.”

Rebecca added that she was fortunate to have accommodation organised.

“Hopefully on Monday morning I’ll be sitting in UCD in the lecture hall among the other veterinary first year students.”

The past week had been overwhelming and stressful, she said. “It is quite daunting. A lot of the time you don’t understand what’s being said, I had to ask what was happening.

“The Judge was quite hard to read, it was difficult to see how it was going, it was only in the last five minutes when he announced his decision that we knew we had won.

“Even at that it wasn’t until my Junior Counsel Brendan Hennessy turned around with a big thumbs up to me. In that moment that was when the smile broke out on my face.”

Annmarie added: “We’re so proud of Becky for standing up for her rights and her convictions. She truly worked so hard for this moment, she deserves every bit of it.”

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