Co Fer­managh pupil at cen­tre of ‘silly’ school sus­pen­sion row

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY AL­LAN PRE­STON

THE mother of a 13-year-old pupil sus­pended for a nose pierc­ing has blasted the “ridicu­lous” pun­ish­ment by her daugh­ter’s Co Fer­managh school.

Aoife McCabe, a year 10 stu­dent at St Kevin’s Col­lege in Lis­naskea, has been ex­cluded from her school since Mon­day over the in­ci­dent.

“I’ve had a week of a lot of has­sle over such a silly item,” her mother Pa­tri­cia Boyle told the Belfast Tele­graph.

Af­ter be­ing told to re­move jew­ellery from her nose by teach­ers af­ter start­ing the new school term, Aoife had re­placed it with a small and barely vis­i­ble plas­tic re­tainer.

“I had a meet­ing with the school on Fri­day morn­ing,” Ms Boyle said.

“The vice-prin­ci­pal had to lean for­ward on the desk to look very closely to see the re­tainer was still in her nose.”

“We were then told they weren’t al­lowed as it was still jew­ellery.”

She con­tin­ued: “I think it’s silly at the end of the day, it’s a lit­tle piece of plas­tic that’s not tak­ing away from the look of the school uni­form and it’s not hin­der­ing her learn­ing.” Ms Boyle said her daugh­ter couldn’t un­der­stand why she was ex­cluded, with other pupils in her class agree­ing it was “silly” to sus­pend her over the mat­ter.

“The school goes on and on about want­ing the pupils to ex­press their per­son­al­ity but when it’s not in line with what it wants it’s some­how wrong,” said Ms Boyle.

St Kevin’s Col­lege was con­tacted by the Belfast Tele­graph yes­ter­day but said it did not want to com­ment on the mat­ter.

In an ear­lier state­ment to the Fer­managh Her­ald, prin­ci­pal Gary Kelly said he stood by the sus­pen­sion.

“We have a uni­form pol­icy for the school where nose pierc­ing, eye­brow and lip pierc­ing are not part of the pol­icy,” he said. “This girl has been given a week and a half to fol­low the pol­icy, but un­for­tu­nately, the vice-prin­ci­pal has had to sus­pend her, but she is only sus­pended un­til the pierc­ing is re­moved. Once the pierc­ing is re­moved, the child can come back to school.”

“We have a pol­icy that we have to fol­low — it is well printed and pub­lished on our web­site, and in our home­work di­ary.”

“It is un­for­tu­nate this has reached the me­dia, as we thought this could have been dealt with.”

St Kevin’s Col­lege was re­named this year and in­tro­duced a new school uni­form af­ter an amal­ga­ma­tion of St Comhghall’s Col­lege, Lis­naskea, and St Eu­gene’s Col­lege, Rosslea.

In March, an­other Co Fer­managh school, En­niskillen Royal Gram­mar, put two of its pupils in iso­la­tion be­cause of their hair­cuts.

Four­teen-year-old Henry Miskim­min was handed the in­ter­nal sus­pen­sion af­ter be­ing told his hair­cut “wasn’t the im­age the school wanted to por­tray to the pub­lic”.

At the time, his mother San­dra spoke out against the school claim­ing she could see no is­sue with her son’s hair “To style. be iso­lated for a hair style that doesn’t look un­tidy — it’s clean and neat. To be pe­nalised for look­ing like how he wants to look like is wrong,” she said. Par­ent Geral­dine Gil­lan also took ex­cep­tion with the pol­icy when her 13-year-old son Tier­nan faced a sim­i­lar sanc­tion for his hair­cut.

School prin­ci­pal Brenda Mussen de­fended the uni­form pol­icy at the time say­ing it had al­ways had the sup­port of par­ents.

❝ It’s a lit­tle piece of plas­tic that’s not tak­ing away from the uni­form

TREVOR LUCY

Aoife McCabe, with mum Pa­tri­cia Boyle, is sus­pended for wear­ing a plas­tic pierc­ing re­tainer in her nose (in­set)

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