A STUDENT WITH dyslexia is bringing an action to the High Court after his application to secure a reader for his Leaving Certificate exams was refused.
A reader is an adult exam supervisor who reads exam questions in a way that students with dyslexia can understand. The student has a condition known as dyscalculia which causes a difficulty with numbers.
The student is one of several individuals who have brought actions against an Independent Appeals Committee of the State Examinations Commission, which is under the supervision of the Department of Education.
Lawyers for the 18-year-old student have brought fresh proceedings because his application has been refused, without him being given the opportunity to submit additional evidence supporting his application for a reader.
The student, who hopes to study Art at third level, was granted permission by the High Court to seek orders to overthrow the refusal and seek the reasons for the refusal.
The action, which is pending before the High Court, claims that no reasons were given for the original refusal. The student claims he has been denied fair procedures.
The teenager’s lawyers returned to the High Court yesterday to challenge the Commission’s decision to refuse the application.
Senior counsel Michael Lynn, alongside Brendan Hennessy, told Ms Justice Mary Faherty that the committee informed the student of the refusal on Tuesday.
The decision for the refusal had been made before the teenagers solicitor Eileen McCabe had processed and submitted reports from an education expert and the student’s teachers.
“We have not been able to put our case,” said the lawyer for the defendant.
Just eight days to exams
Ms Justice Faherty permitted the new High Court proceedings to go ahead and adjourned the matter to 31 May, eight days before the exams start on 9 June.
The court heard that the student, who was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 9-years-old has applied for entry into third level under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE). The DARE admission system offers reduced points to students with disabilities.
In order to qualify for a reader he needed to satisfy certain criteria, including obtaining certain test scores in word reading on sample papers. After undergoing the tests he obtained a score just above the threshold for eligibility for a reader.
He claims that other factors such as his difficulty with numbers should have been taken into account when his application for a reader was being considered.
The teenager’s case is one of several to have come before the court in recent weeks.
In a judgment last month on a similar but separate challenge by another student with dyslexia, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan overturned the refusal of a reader on grounds including the Committee’s failure to specify reasons for that refusal.