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Principal made boy tell class he was 'stupid'

THE father of a young schoolboy who was awarded €7,500 after being persistently bullied by his principal has spoken out about his son's ordeal.

The boy was only in fourth class when the bullying by his teacher became so bad that his parents were advised by doctors to transfer him to a different school.

This week the school, St Paul's NS in Collooney, was ordered to pay €7,500 to the former pupil who was described as an intellectually gifted boy who had thrived before going into fourth class.



Stupid

The settlement hearing at Sligo Circuit Court was told that the then principal, Joyce Gillmor, who was also the boy's teacher when he entered fourth class in September 2008, bullied and humiliated pupils.

On one occasion she ordered the young boy to stand up in front of the class and say he was stupid, the court heard.

It also heard that she tore up homework for simple mistakes and pulled children's hair. There was very high tension in the classroom and pupils were being selected for embarrassment, the court heard.

As a result of the bullying the boy became "dramatically depressed", lost interest in his hobbies and his general mood began to change.

He was finally removed from the school in February, 2009.

The Board of Management of the school had been sued by the student's parents in a personal injuries action.

Judge Michael White heard that the boy's parents were so concerned that they brought him to the family doctor.

The young boy then claimed that his teacher and principal was bullying and humiliating pupils in class.



Moral

Today his father, who did not wish to be named to protect his son's identity, revealed that the young boy has slowly recovered from his ordeal and thanked the teaching staff at his new school for all their support.

"We did none of this for financial gain. We did this on a purely moral issue for the children still left in the school. Our kids are out now but there are plenty still in the school," he told the Herald.

Speaking about the changes in his son, the Sligo dad added: "The difference is unbelievable in the child. We want to thank the teachers in the school we moved him to for all the support they gave him. He's doing grand now, so he is, but we still have a lot of concerns about the structures in place.

"All people want is fair play. We understand teachers have a job to do but there has to be proper system in place for circumstances like this," he said.

"We tried to resolve this several times and went to the school board but we got nowhere. We ended up taking our kids out of the school on medical advice.

"She wasn't named in court. She was only named as principal as the school. I can't understand why," he added.

Ms Joyce is currently on administration leave from the school and is expected to officially resign from her post later in the year.

A spokesperson for the school refused to comment.

hnews@herald.ie