A total of 15 school teachers are on paid leave while under investigation for the alleged abuse and neglect of primary and secondary students in Ireland.

A report in Monday’s Irish Independent highlights the number of current cases of child protection allegations against teachers.

It also alleges that one teacher has received over $1.3million in wages over a claim that has dragged on for 14 years.

The Irish Independent report has also disclosed that all 15 teachers are on fully paid administrative lead with an average salary of €57,000, reduced by the 2010 cuts from an average of €64,000.

Average investigation time takes between three months and seven years but the report confirms that one teacher has been on leave for 14 years pending investigation.

The Department of Education has told the paper that an inquiry into that case has been carried out by both the HSE and the Gardai.

“In addition to the HSE inquiry, there were two sets of civil legal proceedings,” a spokesman for the Department told the Independent.

“Currently, there is an internal process taking place between this person and the employer.”

Schools are obliged to report suspected child abuse to the Department under the Children First.
A set of guidelines issues by the Department of Education in 2001 advise schools to report suspected abuse to a liaison officer who then engages with the HSE and the Gardai if necessary.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland believe most schools err on the side of caution and place teachers on administrative leave when allegations are made against them.

“The ASTI is extremely concerned at the length of time of investigations of allegations against teachers,” said official Gemma Tuffy.

“The ASTI made strong representations to Minister for Children last year on this issue as part of the consultation process on the review of the Children First guidelines.”

A spokesman for the National Parent’s Council Post-Primary group called for investigations to take a maximum of two years.

“It is completely unnecessary for an investigation to go on for 14 years. It is a ridiculous and ludicrous amount of time,” said Tommy Walshe.