A student who was previously expelled sought and was granted injunctive relief before the High Court before any section 29 appeal was made. The student remained in the school pending the outcome of the section 29 appeal. The school argued that the High Court was incorrect in granting injunctive relief where no substantive claim based on any legal right had been advanced by the student. The school argued that under the provisions of the Education Act, the student would be considered as excluded from the school during the period that a section 29 Appeal was being considered and, therefore, should not be allowed to remain in the school.
What is a Section 29 appeal?
Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 gives parents and students who have reached the age of 18 the right to appeal certain decisions made by a school’s Board of Management to the Secretary General of the Department of Education. This includes decisions to exclude, suspend and refuse enrolment.
What is the legal question before the Court?
The question before the Court is whether injunctive relief is available where a student is in the process of seeking a statutory remedy in the form of a section 29 appeal.
Why was a ‘leap-frog’ appeal granted?
The Court stated that the law on expulsions is of general public importance. The student and school’s respective rights need to be clear and accessible as the outcome of this case will largely affect disciplinary procedures in schools across the country.
A secondary school student was expelled from their school during a state exam year for serious misconduct. The student’s parents sought a High Court injunction preventing the expulsion from taking effect, and to allow the student to remain in the school pending the decision of the section 29 committee. The injunction was granted by the High Court. The school argues that the granting of this injunction compels the school to allow a student to remain in a school they have been expelled from and are no longer enrolled in. This raises issues with the school’s authority and disciplinary procedures as they apply to enrolled students.
The school argues that the High Court judge made an error in the granting of this injunction as the section 29 statutory appeals processes were still ongoing, and that there was no legal right to grant the injunction.
What will happen next?
The Supreme Court’s decision on this case will be heard in the coming months. Depending on the decision of the Supreme Court, this could have an effect on all school disciplinary procedures and how school expulsion processes are conducted.
If the Supreme Court were to agree with the High Court’s decision, this would mean that a student could have a right to apply to the High Court in order to remain in the school pending a decision of a section 29 appeal. This of course may raise issues where a student has been expelled from the school for serious health and safety reasons and it is necessary for the student to be removed from the school.
If you have further questions, please contact a member of our Education team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.