Probe as teacher allows student to drink
■ Gardaí pick up distressed pupil on busy road to airport at 1am
Gardaí picked up a student in a distressed state on a public road who was trying to make his way to Dublin Airport around 1am, a teaching inquiry heard.
The student, from Europe, who was over 18, had become upset while drinking wine at a teacher’s residence at his boarding school. He returned to his home country on a flight hours later.
The teacher was employed by the school in an additional supervisory role and lived in permanent accommodation adjacent to the student’s dorm. He is facing six allegations of professional misconduct at a fitness-to-teach inquiry before a disciplinary committee 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 that alcohol was available. It is also alleged that the teacher himself was in an unfit state to carry out his duties as he was under the influence of alcohol. However, the inquiry heard he was off duty on the night in question.
The inquiry heard that gardaí picked up the student on a busy road trying to stop traffic shortly before 1am on November 29, 2016.
“There was a smell of alcohol on him, but I wouldn’t have classed him as being drunk,” the garda said.
Gardaí brought the student back to the school where they met the teacher. Asked how the student reacted when the teacher tried to speak to him, the garda said: “He physically froze and took on a look of absolute sheer fear.”
The inquiry heard details of a written statement from the teacher who said he’d had trouble motivating the student who seemed to have lost interest in his studies.
The teacher said that the student was under pressure from his parents to achieve high results.
He said the student came to his private accommodation on the evening of November 28, 2016. The teacher said it was his night off and he had been drinking wine in his apartment. He said they discussed his studies but an issue arose when he asked the student if he had been taking Ritalin that was not prescribed to him. The student became distressed and ripped his own t-shirt. The teacher said he left the apartment and when he returned the student had gone.
After gardaí picked up the student, he was brought to the principal and later to a garda station. He returned to his home country on a flight 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. However, details of Whatsapp messages revealed he had contacted the student a number of times the previous night and throughout the day. One message the teacher sent the student read: “It was really nice tonight before I fucked up.”
The teacher asked the student via Whatsapp what he had told gardaí and the student responded that he said they had got drunk and had a fight. The Whatsapp conversation was intercepted by the student’s father the following day around 4pm and ended with the following message: “This is [student’s] father. No more Whatsapp.”
In his written explanation to the school, the teacher said he had 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 he had put me in.”
The inquiry continues.