Thursday, 18 Jul 2024

Students expelled over 'sugar snorting' videos launch High Court challenges

Two teenage boys have launched High Court challenges against their expulsion from school after they posted videos on social media of another pupil snorting a white powder during class.

Details of the incident, which the court heard involved the snorting of sugar, were published in an Irish daily newspaper, the High Court heard.

Last month, the students, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were informed the board of management had decided they should be excluded from the secondary school they attend.

The board, which is due to formalise its decision later this month, found the students had behaved in a manner that posed a serious threat to the good order and discipline after a classmate asked them to record him ingesting the white powder on their phones.

The incident was during the course of a lesson while a teacher was present.   

The videos were posted on social media, but are not believed to have been seen by many people.  

The school was made aware of the incident by one of the boys’ mothers, out of her concerns for her son and other student’s safety.

Lawyers representing the boys say the board’s decisions represent a fundamental breach of fair procedures and constitutional justice, are disproportionate and the grounds for their expulsion fly in the face of common sense.

The board also failed to take into account the fact the school principal recommended the teens not be expelled, they say.

It is also claimed the students were told to make statements without being warned the statements would be used against them in a disciplinary process and could be expelled.

In an effort to make the students provide a statement of events, it is also claimed they were told they would not be in any trouble.

Barney Quirke SC, for one of the pupils, said he was making the application because his client is due to sit his Leaving Certificate examinations next June.

He was already out of school and not receiving any education in what is a vital year for him.

While it is intended to appeal the formal decision to expel the student, counsel said the process would take some time to complete.

Even if the appeal was successful counsel said it could be well into the New Year before the student could return to school, and a lot of valuable time would be lost.

Counsel said his client has special needs and has a good disciplinary record, which did not seem to be taken into account by the board.

His client did not know what substance the powder was and counsel said the student who ingested had subsequently said it was sugar.

Counsel said that despite the fact that his client’s video was seen by a few people, the board seemed to take the view it had been widely published and had come to the attention of persons in neighbouring schools and the Irish Sun newspaper.

Derek Shortall Bl for the second student said his client’s action was brought on similar grounds to the other boy, although his client had some previous disciplinary matters, including a suspension for swearing. 

The boys seek various orders including the quashing of the expulsion decision made last month and their readmission.

Permission to bring the actions was granted, on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan. The matter will return before the court on Thursday.

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