Templeogue College principal did not retaliate against teacher for raising grievance, WRC to be told

Niamh Quinn to counter claims regarding indiscipline, including an allegation a student assaulted teacher by throwing mobile phone

The Workplace Relations Commission has upheld a complaint by Laurence Dunne under the Employment Equality Act.

A principal at a Dublin secondary school will tell the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that she did not retaliate against a teacher because she had signed a grievance document highlighting student indiscipline and concerns about how the school was being run.

The principal, Niamh Quinn, will also counter claims regarding school indiscipline, including an allegation that a student who assaulted his teacher by throwing a mobile phone at her was let off with an internal suspension rather than being sent home. A further allegation that a student filmed a teacher’s “backside” while she walked down the corridor was never proven, Ms Quinn will say.

Rosemary Mallon BL, for Templeogue College in Dublin, on Wednesday cross-examined a former teacher at the Spiritan-run school, Jennifer Clancy. Ms Clancy resigned from the school in July 2023 after claiming that Ms Quinn penalised her for signing a grievance document by offering her a timetable that conflicted with her childcare needs.

She said the timetable she was offered in September 2022, seven months after signing the grievance, required her to work afternoons rather than her previous arrangement of working predominantly morning classes. Ms Clancy also alleged that Ms Quinn was aggressive towards her at a meeting and unwilling to negotiate regarding the timetable.


Following the meeting, she said the principal began a disciplinary procedure against her without giving her any details of what allegation was being made against her, who was making the allegation or who was carrying out the investigation.

Ms Mallon began the cross-examination by saying that Ms Quinn will tell the WRC that while she found it difficult when the collective grievance was made, she “didn’t take it personally and didn’t do anything to specifically target you [Ms Clancy]”.

She said that while Ms Clancy may not like certain things that Ms Quinn did, the principal had her reasons and did not act in retaliation.

Ms Mallon put it to Ms Clancy that when Ms Quinn took over as principal in 2019, the complainant did not tell Ms Quinn that she had an agreement with the principal’s predecessor that she would only work mornings. Ms Clancy responded that she thought it a “reasonable conclusion” that the previous principal had communicated her arrangement to Ms Quinn, which she said was evidenced by the morning classes she was given by Ms Quinn from 2019 to 2021.

Ms Mallon said that Ms Clancy had made a “very serious allegation” in her direct evidence on Tuesday, alleging that Ms Quinn had used Tipp-Ex to doctor Ms Clancy’s contract so that it stated she was employed on a fixed term basis for one year, rather than as a permanent employee.

Ms Mallon said there was “not one scintilla” of evidence to support the assertion that Ms Quinn was responsible. Ms Clancy said she doesn’t know how it happened because she wasn’t there when it was altered but “the buck stops with the principal”.

Ms Mallon suggested it was “glaringly obvious” from emails between a Department of Education official and another person that it was the latter who “tippexed” the form. She said it happened as a result of an administrative error and Ms Quinn will say that Ms Clancy was not approved for a permanent contract at that time, and was not told she was on a permanent contract.

Ms Clancy said she doesn’t know who altered the document but it is clear that Ms Quinn signed it.

Ms Mallon said the principal will say that the change to Ms Clancy’s timetable was not malicious or done in retaliation. She said neither Ms Clancy nor Ms Quinn’s predecessor had told her of the timetabling arrangements and she had, in good faith, created the timetable in the best interests of students.

She said the afternoon classes were for Leaving Cert students and Ms Clancy was the best Spanish teacher in the school, with other available Spanish teachers not having experience at that level.

Ms Clancy did not agree that Ms Quinn had the best interests of students in mind, and said two teachers within the department were fully qualified, capable and available to work those hours.

Ms Mallon said that Ms Quinn will deny that she was “frenzied” or aggressive in the meeting following the issuing of the 2022 timetable but accepted that “neither of you coated yourselves in glory”.

She said that the reason Ms Quinn did not provide details of the subsequent disciplinary procedure against Ms Clancy was that Ms Clancy had gone on sick leave. Counsel said Ms Quinn thought it inappropriate to contact her in those circumstances.

Ms Clancy said she is sure that before her signing the grievance letter in February 2022, the principal would not have invoked a disciplinary procedure.

Ms Clancy agreed that after some time Ms Quinn did offer a reasonable compromise on the timetable and offered to withdraw the disciplinary procedure. However, Ms Clancy said that the offer also stated that this did not set a precedent for future time table arrangements.

Ms Mallon also said the school wanted to respond to allegations of student indiscipline at Templeogue.

Ms Mallon said that Ms Quinn’s evidence will be that she was never made aware of Ms Clancy’s allegation of being assaulted by a student throwing his mobile phone. She said she had checked the records and found no critical incident report form and “not one jot of evidence or proof that any such assault occurred”. Ms Clancy said it did happen and she immediately raised it with the deputy principal and left it in the hands of senior management.

In relation to the secret filming of a teacher’s backside, Ms Mallon said Ms Quinn took the phone from the student but could not find any video. She said the student was suspended while the allegation was investigated but no evidence was found.

Ms Mallon said Ms Quinn will also deny a further allegation that a student who told a teacher to “f*** off” was not properly dealt with. She said any student who used that phrase would be automatically suspended.

Adjudicating officer Breiffni O’Neill adjourned the hearing until April 24th, when Ms Clancy will be required to give further evidence before other witnesses are called.

Ms Clancy has made two complaints of penalisation under the Protected Disclosures Act and one under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

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