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School did not discriminate against expelled Traveller who waved fake penis at teacher

The child had been involved in numerous other incidents of bad behaviour.

Image: classroom via Shutterstock

THE EQUALITY TRIBUNAL has ruled that a school did not discriminate against a Traveller child when he was expelled for bad behaviour.

The parents had claimed that proper procedures were not followed.

The child was suspended for two days after he was involved in 12 incidents during his first four weeks at the secondary school.

Over the course of the following three years, teachers filed 66 incident reports over the child’s behaviour.

On one occasion, the boy was sent home on health and safety grounds for bringing in fireworks.

There was also a string of sexual harassment claims against a female teacher who was undertaking one-on-one tuition with him.

“Waving it about”

The ruling noted one incident where the child took a “fake penis” out of his pocket and started “waving it about”, refusing to put it away.

The parents of the child claimed video evidence of the incident had been edited and altered, but equality officer Hugh Lonsdale said “all the relevant sections were intact”.

The pupil was eventually permanently expelled  - a decision that was overturned by the Department of Education as the school had breached its own practice and procedures, but later upheld by the High Court.

His parents accused the secondary school of treating him unfairly when dealing with these complaints, and frequently did not seek his side of events.

The ruling reads:

As parents they were not made aware of the incidents and the respondent failed to put in place the appropriate supports for the complainant as a member of the Traveller community.

There are also conflicting reports of the school’s dealings with the parents. The child’s father claimed that the Principal had mocked his grammar, while the school claimed that he was abusive towards staff.

The school said the child had bullied and displayed aggressive behaviour towards other pupils.

The tribunal ruled that the school had not breached equality legislation in the action they took.

“There has been no evidence presented to me that any of their actions could be deemed to have occurred because the complainant was a member of the Traveller community,” Lonsdale said.

He added that “there may have been occasions when the school might have been better advised to have asked the complainant for his version of events and perhaps they could have involved the parents earlier in the process on occasions”.

Read: Polish Tesco worker awarded €12,000 for racial discrimination after taking a day off work >

More: Speed van worker awarded €28k after petrol attack >

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Nicky Ryan

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