Legal actions taken against the Department of Education more than doubled in 2020, the year that saw the Leaving Cert cancelled and replaced with calculated grades.
Almost 310 legal cases have been filed in the courts against the Department of Education since 2016, an average of almost five per month.
Last year, 103 actions in which the education minister was a named party were filed in the courts. This compares to 40 filed throughout 2019.
The increase in legal action can mainly be attributed to cases taken relating to the cancelled 2020 Leaving Cert; 67 cases filed last year related to the State exams.
This compares to just one legal action in 2018. No challenges were taken relating to the Leaving Cert during 2019.
Cases relating to education provision also more than doubled last year; 10 cases were filed against the department relating to education provision, compared to four in 2019, and five in 2018.
A further 37 cases have been taken so far this year, with nine of these cases relating to education provision.
The details are included in figures released to Peadar Tóibín, the leader of Aontú and TD for Meath West, via parliamentary question for education minister Norma Foley.
It is worth noting that cases may be filed in the courts, but not ultimately pursued, Ms Foley said in her response.
“I was not surprised to see such a high number of legal cases relating to Leaving Cert 2020," said Mr Tóibín.
The high number of legal cases on the topic of education provision might have come from the parents of students attending special schools, he added.
“Students with disabilities and their families have been treated appallingly throughout the pandemic,” he said. “Their schools were closed and they were sent home.
Since 2016, some 121 cases against the Department of Education relating to redress have been filed in the courts, the figures released to Mr Tóibín also show.
More than a third of these cases (41) were filed in 2018.
Also within that timeframe, 18 cases seeking a judicial review of a Section 29 appeal were issued against the department.
Section 29 of the Education Act allows appeals over the decision to refuse to enrol a student, to permanently exclude a student from school, or to suspend a student. Those who wish to challenge the outcome of the appeal must do so through the High Court.