Secondary school teachers challenge decision to redeploy them

Longford Leader Reporter

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Two secondary school teachers have launched High Court challenges against a decision to redeploy them.

The cases have been brought by Aisling McTiernan and Aimee Costello, who have spent over ten years teaching at Meán Scoil Muire Gan Smál in Roscommon Town.   

The teachers were earlier this year selected for redeployment under a scheme set out in a Department of Education and Skills Circular, after the school was informed in December 2018 that it had teaching staff in excess of its approved allocation for the academic year 2019/20.  

Ms Costello who teaches Irish, Geography, Civic, Social and Political Education and programming, and Ms McTiernan, who teaches English and History, were both selected for redeployment. The pair appealed those decisions on several grounds including the fact that they were not surplus to the school's curricular requirements.

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In their High Court actions, they claim that the decision to redeploy them breaches the Department's circular, was contrary to fair procedures, was irrational and unreasonable. They claim there was a failure by the Minister to base its decisions on an objective circular audit containing accurate data on the school.

It is also alleged that there was a failure to provide any rationale for conclusions that certain subjects, including Irish, Geography, English and History, were in surplus at the school. The board's decision, they claim was irrational and unreasonable on grounds including a failure to give adequate reasons for the decisions reached.  Both teachers, who live with their families in Roscommon Town, claim that the decision to redeploy them will cause great upset to their personal lives and circumstances.

They argue, that the decisions to redeploy them should be set aside.  In their judicial review actions against both Minister for Education and the school's Board of Management, the teachers, represented by Feichin McDonagh SC and Padraic Lyons Bl, seeks various orders and declarations.  

The pair are seeking orders quashing both the Minister's decisions that they redeployed for the 2019/20 school year and the school's board of management's refusal to uphold their appeals against the redeployment decisions. They are also seeking damages.

Permission to bring the action was granted on an ex parte basis by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan. The judge made the matter returnable to a date in July.