A boarding school teacher sent a student a series of bizarre messages after he was found in a distressed state following a drinking session at his apartment, an inquiry heard.
The young man from Europe, who was over 18, was found by police on the side of the road at 1am trying to make his way to Dublin Airport, a fitness to teach disciplinary inquiry heard today.
When Irish police (Garda) brought the student back to the school and met the teacher in question he “physically froze and took on a look of absolute sheer fear,” the hearing heard.
The teacher – who along with the student and the name of the school is not being named – was subsequently summoned to a meeting with the principal at 7.30am on November 29 and suspended on full pay, The Irish Mirror reports.
He was advised not to make contact with the student.
However, details of WhatsApp messages revealed he’d contacted the student a number of times the previous night and throughout the day.
One message the teacher sent the student read, “It was really nice tonight before I f****d up.”
The teacher asked the student via WhatsApp what he’d told police and the student responded that he said they had got drunk and had a fight.
The WhatsApp conversation between the two was intercepted by the student’s father the following day around 4pm and ended with the following message: ‘This is (Student A’s) father. No more Whatsapp.’
The teacher, whose permanent accommodation was adjacent to the student’s accommodation at the education centre, was employed by the school in an additional supervisory role.
He is facing six allegations of professional misconduct at a fitness to teach inquiry before a disciplinary committee of the Teaching Council.
The allegations include allowing the student to drink wine in his apartment and leaving the student alone in the apartment knowing the student was upset and alcohol was available.
It is also alleged the teacher himself was in an unfit state to carry out his duties as he was under the influence of alcohol, however, the inquiry heard he was off duty on the night in question.
The inquiry heard that police picked up the young student on a public motorway attempting to stop traffic shortly before 1am on November 29, 2016.
“There was a smell of alcohol on him, but I wouldn’t have classed him as being drunk,” the police said.
Police then took him back to the school where they met the teacher he had been drinking with.
Asked how the student reacted when the teacher tried to speak to him, the police said: “He physically froze and took on a look of absolute sheer fear.”
The inquiry heard details of a written statement from the teacher in question who said he’d had trouble motivating the student who seemed to have lost interest in his studies.
The teacher said the student was under pressure from his parents to achieve high results.
He said the student came to his private accommodation on the evening of November 28, 2016.
The teacher said it was his night off and he’d been drinking wine in his apartment.
He said they discussed the young man’s studies but an issue arose when he asked the student if he had been taking ritalin that was not prescribed to him.
The student became distressed and upset and ripped his own T-shirt.
The teacher said he left the apartment and when he returned the student had gone.
After the student was picked up by police, he was brought to the principal and later to a police station.
He returned to his home country on a flight later that day.
In his written explanation to the school, the teacher said he’d sent the messages in an attempt to apologise to the student for what happened.
The teacher wrote: “I wanted to take the blame for him getting drunk to give him a way out of the terrible situation he had put me in.”
Giving evidence at the inquiry, the principal said it would be ‘very unusual’ for a student to be drinking alone with a teacher at the teacher’s home.
“You would never drink on your own with a student….because you leave yourself open to all sorts of accusations.
“If a student told me they were drinking alone with a (member of staff) I would be furious,” the principal said.
The inquiry, which is only the second ever in the history of the State, continues next week when it will hear evidence from teachers at the school.