High Court resolves case of special needs student refused exemption from Irish

Court previously heard that condition of student, who had been diagnosed with ADHD, ASD, and anxiety, was 'exacerbated and triggered' by having to learn Irish
High Court resolves case of special needs student refused exemption from Irish

The court was told a psychological assessment and other reports had recommended that the girl seek an exemption from having to learn Irish.

A High Court challenge brought on behalf of a student with special education needs against a refusal by the secondary school to grant her an exemption from having to study Irish has been resolved.

The case was one of several similar High Court actions, which were also settled after the State altered its regulations concerning exemptions from having to learn Irish.

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan was informed by Derek Shortall SC, for the student, who had sued through her mother, that the case had been resolved against the State and the school following out of court talks, and the proceedings could be struck out.

While no details of the resolution were given in open court, it is understood that the proceedings were resolved to the plaintiff's satisfaction.

Neither the student, who brought the action through her mother, nor the school that she attends can be identified by order of the court.

The court previously heard that the student has been diagnosed with ADHD, ASD, and anxiety.

It was claimed that her condition was "exacerbated and triggered" by having to learn Irish.

A psychological assessment, and other reports had recommended that the girl seek an exemption from having to learn Irish.

She sought an exemption in the mainstream secondary school she attends.

Application refused by board of management

However, her application was refused by the school's board of management.

Despite the fact the girl required some special classes it was claimed that she did not meet the then criteria for an exemption.

Those criteria, which were in place when the case was initiated in late 2021, were contained in a Department of Education Circular entitled 'Exemption from the Study of Irish".

She did not have an exemption from having to learn Irish at primary school.

The girl's mother had claimed that she was "not being provided with an appropriate education".

The failure to be granted an exemption diminishes her overall education as well as impinging on her psychological integrity and as such is a violation of her constitutional rights, the court was told.

Her daughter had been "struggling significantly" with Irish, which caused her "unending stress and anxiety, due to her specific mix of educational needs".

Arising out of the refusal to grant the exemption, High Court judicial review proceedings were brought against the school’s board of management, as well as the Minister for Education and Skills, Ireland, and the Attorney General.

She sought an order quashing the school board's decision that the girl is not entitled to an exemption.

In the action it was accepted that the girl's school had been applying the criteria set down by Department of Education and the action was primarily directed at the State respondents.

Among the declarations she had sought was one that the Department of Education's circular regarding exemptions also unlawfully interferes with the student's right to an appropriate education.

She had also sought declarations including that the school had been operating an inflexible policy in regard to exemptions.

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