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Dyslexic student launches High Court action after being denied exam support

The 18-year-old Leaving Cert student is hoping to secure a reader that will allow him to understand exam papers.

3131138743_10e6fe4891_b Source: William Murphy

A LEAVING CERT student with dyslexia has launched High Court proceedings aimed at securing a reader that will allow him to understand papers.

The action by the 18-year-old student is against an Independent Appeals Committee of the State Examinations Commission

Late last month the committee, which is under the aegis of the Department of Education, turned down his application for a reader (an adult exam supervisor to read exam questions in a way a dyslexic student can understand) while he sits his exams.

No reasons were given for the refusal by the committee.

The teen seeks orders quashing the refusal as well as a declaration from the court he is entitled to be furnished with the reasons for the refusal.

The student, who hopes to go on to third level education, has applied under the Disability Access Route to Education. This is an alternative admissions scheme where reduced points are offered to school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education.

In order to qualify for a reader the teen, who hopes to go on to study art, needed to satisfy certain criteria, including obtaining certain test scores in word-reading on sample papers. After undergoing the tests he obtained a score just above the threshold for eligibility for a reader.

His counsel Feichin McDonagh SC said his client is not only dyslexic but also has difficulties with numeracy, a condition known as dyscalculia. This fact, which was submitted to committee, should have been considered by it in the overall factual matrix before it arrived at its decision.

Counsel said the teen is seriously prejudiced by the decision, which amounts to a breach of fair procedure and the teen’s rights to natural and constitutional justice.

The latest action is the third such action to come before the court in recent weeks. In a judgment last month on a similar but separate challenge by another student with dyslexia, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan overturned the refusal of a reader on grounds including the Committee’s failure to specify reasons for that refusal.

A second action, by a 17-year-old student diagnosed with dyslexia in 2010 is pending, but it is understood that case may be resolved.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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