Primary school teacher accused of taping girls' mouths to stop talking
Five fifth-class pupils had their mouths taped shut by a teacher when they refused to stop talking in class, a Teaching Council fitness to practise inquiry was told yesterday.
They gave evidence of their treatment by the substitute teacher at the first public fitness to practise inquiry held by the council.
The female teacher was facing allegations of professional misconduct at the inquiry into the incident, which happened in the primary school on March 7, 2012.
"I was scared and shocked," said one of the teenagers as she recalled the incident.
The school was not named and the identity of the teacher, the principal and the pupils was also not made public.
The hearing ended with the three-member panel indicating that they would give their decision on the case at a later date.
The teacher was not present at the hearing and was not represented.
In a submission to the Teaching Council, she had denied the accusations and claimed the children had taped up their own mouths.
Each of the pupils contradicted the teacher's statement.
The young witnesses said six boys and five girls were in a maths class when the incident happened.
They admitted that all the pupils were talking and messing about and that they did not stop talking despite the teacher telling them to "whist" on several occasions.
The substitute teacher, who had started working at the school only two days previously, said she would Sellotape their mouths if they did not stop talking.
"She could not control the class. We kept talking," said one witness, who is now aged 16.
The witnesses said the teacher placed Sellotape on two of the girls' lips and instructed the other three girls to put Sellotape on their own mouths.
The six boys in the class did not have their mouths Sellotaped, they said.
According to one witness, the teacher later asked the boys if the Sellotape should be removed from the girls' mouths and the boys said "No".
The tape remained on the girls' mouths for up to 30 minutes until the class ended.
The school principal said she was informed about what had happened by a pupil and she spoke with the five girls.
"I could see they were upset. One or two were crying," she said.
The girls had "little red marks" around their mouths, the principal added.
When the teacher arrived back at the school later that afternoon, she put the allegations to her .
The principal said the teacher did not deny it had happened and said she "didn't mean any harm by it".
The teacher later informed the Teaching Council that she did not put tape over the pupils' mouths.
The principal informed her that afternoon that she was not to return to her job. She contacted the parents about the incident and asked the girls to write down what had happened.
The principal said she had been in contact with the Department of Education, Tusla and the HSE about the incident.
She added that one of the parents contacted the Department of Education to complain.
The teacher later informed the Teaching Council that she would not be capable of dealing with an oral public hearing.
She said she was not giving the council permission to go ahead with the hearing.
The teacher also said she did not want to receive emails or phone calls from the council.