School axes celebrations amid sex attack probe

The school at the centre of sex assault allegations has cancelled its annual Charter Day celebrations as Garda and Tusla investigations get under way.

Pupils at the private, fee-paying Kings Hospital School were due to gather today for ceremonies to mark the 345th anniversary of the school receiving its royal charter in 1671.

The event, one of the biggest in the school calendar, is held every year in early December and features the headmaster’s annual address, a prize-giving ceremony recognising academic achievement, a choral performance, and a speech by an invited guest of honour.

A notice on the school’s calendar states that the event has been postponed. A source said it was deemed inappropriate to host celebrations given the recent events, but it was hoped the commemoration would go ahead some time after the Christmas holidays.

A decision will be taken later on other events such as the annual carol service.

The school has come under intense scrutiny since news of the alleged incident broke, both for the nature of the reported attack on the 13-year-old boy and for the management’s response to it.

It was several days before gardaí were informed about the allegations despite procedures set down by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, that where a child protection issue arises out of hours when social workers are not directly contactable, gardaí must be alerted.

The school’s board of governors met over the weekend for what they described as “a full review of this very serious issue”.

In a statement issued afterwards they said: “The care and wellbeing of all students and the wider school community is of paramount importance to the board.

“The governors are committed to the due process and fully support the external investigations currently underway.

“In our role as governors, we will continue to actively monitor the situation and work closely with school management to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children involved and all of the students in the school.”

The 24 members of the board include the Church of Ireland Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh and the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, as well as senior figures from business, finance, and the legal profession.

Their emergency meeting came ahead of a previously scheduled meeting which will also go ahead as planned later this week.

Staff are trying to keep it business as usual for the 700 day pupils and boarders who attend the school in Palmerstown, Dublin, but the revelations are believed to have caused serious upset among the students and disquiet among parents.

Social workers and gardaí are preparing to interview the eight students who have been suspended since the alleged incident, but may also need to speak with many more as they try to piece together the events that led up to the reported attack and get a full picture of the environment in which the children live and study.

The source said the school management accepted they needed to offer an open door to the investigating authorities and would be facilitating all their requests for access to staff and students.


Lifestyle

Well first and foremost, it depends what type of cold you have, as Prudence Wade discovers.Should you exercise when you’ve got a cold?

Make like a Masterchef contestant with this sophisticated dessert.How to make Marcus Wareing’s milk chocolate, raspberry and thyme tart

Waste not, want not – this one’s all about using things up.How to make Marcus Wareing’s panzanella

With fresh produce in abundance, this Balkan state is becoming a top destination for foodies. Jonjo Maudsley gets stuck in.Get beyond Belgrade to taste the authentic side of Serbia

More From The Irish Examiner