What is an inquiry?
In most cases, an inquiry will take the form of an oral hearing before a panel of the Disciplinary Committee. It is similar to a hearing before a court or tribunal. Witnesses give evidence under oath.
However, the teacher can ask that the inquiry take place by an examination of the relevant documents and written submissions rather than as an oral hearing. In addition, the panel of the Disciplinary Committee can ask the teacher to consent to the inquiry taking place by an examination of the relevant documents and written submissions. The panel of the Disciplinary Committee will decide which approach is suitable. In most cases, an oral hearing will take place, especially where facts are disputed, or are at issue.
If an oral hearing takes place, what is my role?
We may ask you to give evidence, in which case your role is that of a witness. For more information in relation to the role of a witness and what to expect at an oral hearing, please click here for our Information for witnesses booklet.
If an oral hearing takes place, will it be in public or private?
Hearings take place in public unless the teacher, or a witness about whom personal matters may be disclosed, requests the panel to hold the hearing or part of the hearing in private, and the panel is satisfied that it would be appropriate to do so. If a hearing is held in public, the panel may keep the identity of the people involved, including the teacher, confidential.
Who will be present in the hearing room?
The Panel of the Disciplinary Committee – this will include three to five people, who are members of the Disciplinary Committee. One member of the panel will act as Chairperson.
The Legal Assessor – this is a barrister who will sit with the panel and advise them about legal or procedural issues. The Legal Assessor does not decide whether the complaint has been proven. This is a matter for the panel only.
The Director’s legal representatives – these may include solicitors or barristers who will present the case on behalf of the Director.
The Teaching Council staff – these will include relevant staff of the Teaching Council.
The registered teacher – the subject of the complaint.
The teacher’s representatives – these may include legal, union or other representatives who may act and speak on the teacher’s behalf. They will put the teacher’s position to the panel and will question the witnesses about their evidence. A registered teacher may defend his or her own case.
The stenographer – this person records all the evidence given at the hearing.
The public – If the inquiry is held in public, there may be members of the public including journalists present to watch and listen to the proceedings. They usually sit at the back of the hearing room.
If my complaint is referred to the Disciplinary Committee for an inquiry, what could happen to the teacher?
The panel of the Disciplinary Committee which considers your complaint will decide whether the complaint is proven and on which grounds (for example, professional misconduct, poor professional performance, being medically unfit to teach, and so on). Usually, complaints have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at inquiry.
If the complaint is proven and a finding is made against the teacher, the panel of the Disciplinary Committee which considers your complaint may decide to:
- advise, admonish or censure the teacher
- place conditions on the teacher’s registration
- suspend the teacher from the Register of Teachers for a specified period of time (up to two years). (This would mean that the teacher would not be able to teach in a position funded by the Department of Education and Skills for the time that he or she is suspended from the Register.)
- remove the teacher from the Register of Teachers and not allow him or her to apply to be restored to the register for a specified period of time.
(As an unregistered teacher, the teacher would then not be able to teach in a position funded by the Department of Education and Skills).
Where will the oral hearing take place?
Most hearings take place at the Teaching Council offices at Block A, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Occasionally, hearings may be held elsewhere. Before the hearing, we will write to you with the location, date and time that you should attend.