It is the duty of the patron to appoint a Board of Management where practicable. Some schools, particularly private schools have not done so. It is not clear the extent to which “practicable” limits the duty. It is arguably contrary to the intention and purpose of the legislation, which prescribes accountability to parents through the Boards of Management.
Boards of Management have corporate status. No action lies against a member of the Board acting in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of the Act. The Board of Management manages the school on behalf of the patron for the benefit of the students and parents.
The 2012 Act amended the provisions regarding principals. The principal of a recognised school and teachers under the direction of the principal have responsibility in accordance with the Act for instruction provided to students in the school. They shall contribute generally to the education and personal development of students in the school.
There are procedures for the appointment of principals, which are published by the Department of Education. Appointment procedures provide for advertising, selection board interviews, notification and disclosure of interests. The procedures must be followed in substance. Noncompliance with the details of the procedures may not necessarily invalidate the decision.
The 2012 Act provides that the principal is responsible for the day-to-day management of the school, including guidance and direction of the teachers and other staff. He or she is accountable to the Board for the management of the school. He or she provides leadership to the teachers, staff and students.
He or she is responsible together with the Board to the parents of students and teachers for creation in the school of an environment which is supportive of learning among students and which promotes professional development of teachers.
Under the direction of the Board and in consultation with teachers, the parents and to the extent appropriate to their ages, the students, the principal is to set objectives of the school and monitor achievement of the objectives. He or she is to encourage the involvement of the parents of students in school in education.
The principal has the powers which are necessary or expedient in connection with carrying out his or her functions in accordance with the policies determined by the Board and the regulations made under the Education Act.
The principal is entitled to be a member of every committee appointed by the Board. Whenever practicable, the principal shall consult the teachers and staff.
The 2012 Act varies the provisions in respect of staff. The Board shall appoint so many teachers and other staff as it considers necessary for the performance of its functions and powers. The numbers and qualifications of the staff of a recognised school, paid from public funds are determined by the Department of Education.
The department determines the terms and conditions of employment of teachers and other staff appointed by the Board. Remuneration and superannuation is determined by the Department of Education.
Notwithstanding employment by the Board, the teacher or member of the staff may be redeployed to another recognised school in accordance with published redeployment procedures. Once redeployed, the teacher or member of staff becomes an employee of the latter recognised schools or Board. The 2012 strengthens the power of that Department to redeploy teachers.
The Teaching Council must provide the Minister or VEC with information held in respect of every registered teacher. This includes information as to registration, conditional registration, lapsing and cessation of registration.
The Department, where it is satisfied that it is necessary to facilitate urgent, temporary or occasional staffing needs, may prescribe the circumstances in which a person who is not a recognised teacher may be employed in place of a registered teacher in a recognised school and be remunerated, together with his or her conditions of employment.
Generally, this may only occurs if there is no registered teacher available to take up the position. Limits may be placed on the length of time that persons may be so employed. Requirements may be prescribed for the minimum qualifications.
The Board of a recognised school in accordance with procedures determined by the Minister following consultations with bodies of patrons, the school management organisations, trade unions and staff organisations may suspend or dismiss principals, teachers or other staff.
The 2012 Act provides for the procedures for the suspension, submission, appointment and remuneration of teachers to be put in place after consultation. It does not require agreement, just consultation.