Cancelling the Leaving Certificate is open to legal challenge, according to the Minister for Education.
Joe McHugh admitted at the
The government has received legal advice that the state is open to challenge after announcing that they would be moving to calculated grades, by teachers and principals in lieu of the state exam.
"In terms of the legal advice, there are vulnerabilities in this," Mr McHugh said.
"The advice that we're getting is, because there is a legitimate expectation for students to sit the Leaving Cert, and because we as a department have come to the conclusion that it's not safe and it's not in the best interest of the students, in terms of their physical and mental health to hold those exams, and a solution which is different to the expectations of the students over two years, there are legal vulnerabilities around this."
There was no perfect solution but I believe this is the fairest possible outcome for 6th years. It ends the uncertainty and makes sure students can start their college and other courses in the autumn. Nobody wants to risk losing a year. #LeavingCert pic.twitter.com/vxi4zR3cfx— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) May 8, 2020
Mr McHugh said the delay in announcing the postponement, which was subject to much speculation and leaks in recent weeks, was due to undertaking legal advice on the issue.
"This was a lot to do with the time that we needed to take to go through a deliberation, because there is a legitimate expectation on the part of students to sit the normal Leaving Cert," he added.
The Department of Education looked at a number of options in lieu of postponing the exams, including spreading the exams out, with one exam a day from July 29 to the beginning of September, or exams that potentially could just last one and a half hours.
However, these options could also have presented legal liability on the same grounds, or were later deemed unsafe under the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
"The whole legitimate expectation of what the Leaving Cert would look like was eroded straight away," Mr McHugh said of the other options.
"In the middle of all that, there were all the fears and reservations around public health, health of the students of the supervisors, and all the people involved in the process.
"Within the new calculated model because it's such a departure from the exam as we know it, it's a completely different system, we have to ensure that we still provide a Leaving Cert for students to continue on their life journey.
"Students who may not necessarily be going to university but might be going into the workplace and they want their leaving certification.
"Students want to go on with their life, and we all want this during this crisis.
"We know life's on hold, but to say to a student, that we're not able to provide the Leaving Cert the way it should be, and we're going to delay things for a year, I think that would be the ultimate disaster for so many students that want to get on with their life.
"On the advice we've been given, yes, it has been flagged, there will be an issue on legitimate expectation but there is very clear advice there is compelling health evidence, saying that the Leaving Cert can't go ahead."