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School pupil picked up by Gardai on road ‘had been drinking wine with teacher’

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 13/01/2018 Louise Roseingrave
Pic: Shutterstock: School-boy © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland School-boy

A boarding school teacher allowed a distressed student to drink wine at his on-campus home and failed to take action when he later discovered that the student was absent from his dorm, a Teaching Council Fitness to Practise hearing has been told.

The inquiry heard that gardai picked up the young student on a motorway trying to stop traffic to get a lift to Dublin Airport shortly before 1am.

‘There was a smell of alcohol on him, but I wouldn’t have classed him as being drunk,’ the garda said.

Gardai brought the student back to the school where they met the teacher in question.

Asked how the student reacted when the teacher tried to speak to him, the garda said: ‘He froze and took on a look of absolute sheer fear.’

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The teacher was employed by the school in an additional supervisory role and lived in accommodation beside the student’s dorm. He is facing six allegations of professional misconduct at a fitness-to-teach inquiry of the Teaching Council.

The allegations include allowing the student to drink wine in his apartment and leaving the student alone knowing the student was upset and alcohol was available. It is also alleged the teacher was in an unfit state to carry out his duties as he was under the influence of alcohol.

The inquiry heard he was off duty on the night. The inquiry heard that on the night of November 28, 2016, the student, who is not from Ireland, went to the on-campus home of the teacher. The teacher was off duty and was drinking wine.

The inquiry heard details of a statement from the teacher in question who said the student seemed to have lost interest in his studies. The teacher said the student was under pressure from his parents to achieve high results.

(GERMANY OUT) Ritalin, ein Medikament, das ?rzte Kindern verschreiben, die an dem Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-Hyperaktivit?ts-Syndrom (ADHS) leiden.el . (Photo by Schwartz/ullstein bild via Getty Images): Ritalin / Arzneimittel © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Ritalin / Arzneimittel

The teacher claimed the student became distressed when he quizzed him on whether he was taking Ritalin or not. Pic: Schwartz/ullstein bild via Getty Images

He said the student came to his private accommodation on his night off and they had discussed the young man’s studies. But an issue arose when he asked the student if he had been taking stimulant drug Ritalin, which was not prescribed to him.

The student became distressed, ripping his own T-shirt. The teacher said he left the apartment and when he returned the student had gone. After the student was picked up by gardai, he was taken to the principal and later to a Garda station. He returned to his home country later that day.

The teacher was summoned to a meeting with the principal at 7.30am on November 29 and suspended on full pay. He was advised not to make contact with the student.

03/10/2016. Garda . Pictured A GARDA CAR. Photo:Sam Boal /Rollingnews.ie © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland 03/10/2016. Garda . Pictured A GARDA CAR. Photo:Sam Boal /Rollingnews.ie

The boy was taken to his school principal by Gardai and flew home the next day. Pic: Sam Boal /Rollingnews.ie

However, details of WhatsApp messages revealed he’d contacted the student a number of times the previous day and night. One message sent by the teacher read, ‘It was really nice tonight before I f***ed up.’

The teacher asked the student via WhatsApp what he’d told gardai and the student responded that he said they had got drunk and had a fight. In his written explanation to the school, the teacher said he’d sent the messages in an attempt to apologise to the student for what happened.

The teacher wrote: ‘I wanted to take the blame for him getting drunk to give him a way out of the terrible situation.’

At the inquiry, the principal said it would be ‘very unusual’ for a student to be drinking alone with a teacher at the teacher’s home. ‘If a student told me they were drinking alone with a [member of staff] I would be furious,’ the principal said. The inquiry continues next week.

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