Almost €1m spent on school suspension appeals

The State has spent just under €1m in the past three years on hearing appeals from secondary school pupils who were either expelled or suspended.

A total of 128 students were expelled from second-level schools during the 2008/09 school year, and that figure rose to 148 students for the following school year. The data for 2010/11 is not yet available.

According to figures provided by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, the number of cases that went before a hearing committee was far higher.

A total of 390 cases went through an appeal process in 2009, 369 in 2010, and 367 in 2011.

These were appeals under section 29 of the Education Act and included appeals against 20-day suspensions or children being refused entry into another school.

Parents or guardians are entitled to appeal a school’s decision to the National Educational Welfare Board and if unsuccessful, they have to find another school for their child.

A three-person committee is set up for the purpose of the hearing, including an inspector and two others with “the requisite expertise, experience, and independence”.

The payment, travel, and subsistence for the two external committee members amounted to €393,000 in 2009, €305,000 in 2010 and €276,000 in 2011.

A small percentage of this relates to room hire for hearings where Department of Education offices were unavailable.

The information was provided by Mr Quinn in response to a written Dáil question from Labour TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

The appeal system is expected to be used by the parents of four fifth-year pupils from Oatlands College, Dublin, who were expelled last week after posting abusive remarks about their teachers on Facebook.

They had already served a 20-day suspension.

A further three students are reported to have been expelled from the fee-paying High School in Rathgar, Dublin, on Friday and told they would have to find an alternative place to sit their Leaving Certificate, which begins on June 6.

The school has also chosen to end the academic year for Leaving Certificate pupils early.

It follows a dance organised by the students in a common room, during which the door to the room was padlocked from the inside by the students.

There was also reported to have been some “slagging” of teachers on Facebook.


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