herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Questions remain as school board meets on alleged sexual assault

The board of governors of The King's Hospital school met 'for a full review of this very serious issue'
The board of governors of The King's Hospital school met 'for a full review of this very serious issue'

The board overseeing a school where it is alleged a serious sexual assault occurred met to discuss the issue at the weekend.

However, following the meeting it is still unclear when members of the board of governors of The King's Hospital school in Palmerstown first learned of the alleged crime on a 13-year-old student on the premises.

The incident is alleged to have occured in a dorm room on the night of Thursday, November 24.

The incident was not reported to gardai until the following Wednesday.

Questions remain over how the school acted.

Under the Children First Legislation introduced in 2014, there is a statutory obligation on certain professionals and others to report child protection concerns to child protection agency Tusla. It was not until last Monday before the matter was formally reported to Tusla.

By then eight pupils had been suspended as the school carried out its own inquiries. Students were ordered to hand in mobile phones amid reports that the alleged assault had been recorded on a number of devices.

The question as to why the school did not alert gardai when the matter was outside office hours, which is advised by Tusla's website, has yet to be answered.

Yesterday, the board of governors of the school confirmed it held a meeting "for a full review of this very serious issue".

"The care and wellbeing of all students and the wider school community is of paramount importance to the board," a statement issued on its behalf read.

Process

"The governors are committed to the due process and fully support the external investigations currently underway," it said.

"In our role as governors, we will continue to actively monitor the situation and work closely with school management to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children involved and all at the school," the statement concluded.

The Herald asked the board when it was made aware of the incident, and whether it was consulted before suspensions.

This paper also asked if the board had confidence that the principal contacted gardai and Tusla quickly enough following the allegation of the assault.

The board responded by saying that, due to legal constraints, it could not get into that level of detail while investigations are ongoing.

On Friday, the school issued a statement saying management and staff had performed the correct procedures.

"We also heard the parents of the alleged victim and of the alleged suspects were briefed as soon as possible," it said.

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