ANOTHER year will have passed before Ms Cathy McSorley’s tenure as principal of Kilkenny City Vocational School will be resolved, one way or the other. The High Court has given her a date in the middle of February to hear the judicial review of the report into her running of the school and the subsequent decision by the Minister for Education to remove her from the position.
Ms McSorley went to the High Court to vindicate her good name after an order was sent to her in August by Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn claiming that she had failed to satisfactorily carry out the duties of her office, and that the minister was of the opinion that she was unfit to hold such office.
In the high Court she strenuously denied this allegation. The full hearing into the report and its consequences is expected to last a number of days and will not be decided upon immediately. It could be number of a number of months before a decision is handed down in the case and another school year will be almost over. It has been made clear that if Ms McSorley fails in her review of the decision she will face a huge legal bill for which she will be liable and not the State.
The enquiry into Ms McSorley’s tenure as principal was set up by the then Education minister, Mary Hanafin. Mary Hanafin in early 2006. She appointed Mr Torlach O’Connor, retired Assistant Chief Inspector of the Department of Education to carry out the enquiry.
His duty was to carry out an inquiry into the performance by Ms Cathy McSorley in: (i) the organisation and administration of that school in the area of human resource management; (ii) the alleged failure of Ms McSorley to effectively apply the schools disciplinary policy; (iii) the alleged engagement by Ms McSorley in the bullying of staff members of County Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee; (iv) the alleged failure of Ms McSorley to comply with the lawful orders of the Vocational Education Committee as directed from time to time by the Chief Executive Officer; (v) the administration of the school by Ms McSorley with regard to recording of the roll books in the school and the supervision of a foreign trip by the school in February 2001, and (vi) the alleged payment by Ms McSorley to students enrolled in Kilkenny City Vocational School to attend such school.
In the High Court, Ms McSorley’s senior counsel argued that the decision by the Minister to remove her from her position was ‘unjustified, irrational and grossly unfair and based on a fatally flawed and unsound investigation report.
She claimed in court that an interim report exonerated her on all six counts, criticised her employer County Kilkenny VEC for not supporting her and concluded the principal was a ‘very considerable force for good in the school’. Ms. McSorley also claims the author of the report acted beyond his powers in investigating and finding against her in new matters relating to funding of the school.