Concern about a Teacher Bullying
If you have a complaint or a concern about a teacher in your child's school, it is appropriate in most cases to firstly try and resolve the issue by talking with the teacher and/or the Principal. Every school is obliged to have a very specific policy on dealing with bullying and you should also ask to view a copy of the policy. If the issue remains unresolved you can opt to make a formal complaint.
Making a Formal Complaint
- It is important if making a complaint to adhere to the schools complaints procedure. The procedures adopted by most schools in dealing with complaints about teachers are those that have been agreed between the teachers unions and school management bodies. These procedures set out the stages to be followed and the specific timescales.
- if the complaint is not resolved at stage one between the parent/guardian and the teacher and/or principal, the parent/guardian will have the option to purse the matter further under stages 2, 3 and 4 of the above procedures by referring the complaint in writing to the Board of Management of the School.
Unhappy with the outcome of a school investigation
If following an investigation at school level you remain unhappy with the outcome, you can contact the Department of Education and Skills on 090 6484099. While the Dept of Education and Skills does not have legal powers to instruct schools to follow a particular course with regard to individual complaints or to investigate individuals complaints, the Department will advise you on what further options are open to you. These options will include:
- Appealing to the Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman does not have the power to look at the individual incidents of bullying but can, if it deems appropriate, examine the administrative actions of a school recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school’s complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the school has had a negative affect on a child. The office can be contacted at: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1; tel: 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 865 6800. Visit the OCO website for more information
- If you feel that there is a child protection issue, i.e. if you feel the child has been phycially or psychologically demaged or is at risk, you can report this to the Department of Education and Skills by telephoning (090) 648 4099 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Any child protection concern reported to staff in the Department is dealt with in accordance with the Department’s Procedures for responding to Child Protection Concerns brought to the attention of staff employed by the Department of Education and Skill . Under these procedures the Department does not pass judgment on concerns brought to its attention and ensures that the details of the concern available to the Department are immediately passed on to the relevant investigatory authorities, including the relevant school authorities, the Health Service Executive and/or An Garda Síochána. The Department cannot guarantee confidentiality to those reporting child protection concerns as the information it receives must be passed on to the relevant authorities for investigation, including any details of the person reporting the concern. The Department does not have a role in investigating child protection concerns; statutory responsibility for child protection rests with the HSE. View the full Dept of Education & Skills School Child Protection Procedures. Section 6 of the School Child Protection Procedures deals with the issue of bullying - view Section 6 here.
- Alternatively Parents who wish to invoke the child protection procedurees do not have to process their complaint directly to the Department of Education and Skills but can alternatively make direct contact with Health Service Executive and/or the Ombudsman for Children.
- Parents can also contact the Patron of the School which may be the Bishop or the local VEC or some other body.
The Teaching Council has published a Draft Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers
in September 2011. It is envisaged that the
Teaching Council will be in a position to investigate complaints regarding teacher conduct or acting contrary to the Code of Professional Conduct when Part 5 of the Teaching Council Act is commenced by the Minister for Education and Skills. There has been a technical obstacle to the implementation of Part 5 and it is hoped that this will be resolved by mid to late 2012.