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Saturday, June 16, 2012
Schools have fired at least six teachers for misconduct under new disciplinary procedures.
It is unclear, however, if more have been sacked or sanctioned over the past three years, as the Department of Education only plays a role if teachers appeal disciplinary action.
The six cases known to the department were referred to a disciplinary appeal panel, and the outcome of one appeal is pending. One teacher successfully appealed against dismissal, one had a different disciplinary action recommended, and three appeals failed.
However, the final decision in each case remains a matter for the school board after an appeal panel makes its recommendation and the department does not have records of the final outcomes.
A teachers’ disciplinary appeal panel has been set up in 15 cases since 2009, including the six dismissals and a pending case in which a teacher was suspended without pay. The rest were unsuccessful appeals against:
* Suspension without pay (five cases);
* Demotion (one appeal);
* Deduction of salary increments (one appeal);
* Written censure (one case).
The nature of the offences concerned is not known. Nor is how many were at primary or second-level schools. The procedures, in place since 2009, cover work or conduct issues other than professional competence, and disciplinary action is only initiated if informal resolution does not work or is insufficient for the offence.
The figures emerge after an Oireachtas committee was told last month that the public believes none of the country’s 60,000-plus school teachers can be fired.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, the largest of the three teaching unions, said the figures contradicted such myths.
The department agreed the procedures relating to misconduct with unions and school management representatives ahead of the 2009/2010 school year. Asked why it did not have records on unappealed sanctions, the department said decisions on disciplinary issues were matters for schools or vocational education committees which employed the teachers.
The misconduct procedures allow for a teacher to be put on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation or disciplinary hearing where circumstances warrant. A teacher must be given an opportunity to respond to allegations or complaints and any sanction must be in proportion to the nature of the conduct, behaviour or performance concerned.
Separate procedures exist for teachers whose work is below standard.
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