€255k for special needs assistant bullied at Kildare school

A special needs assistant has been awarded €255,000 in a High Court bullying action against a Co Kildare national school.

46-year-old Una Ruffley sued the board of management of St Anne's School in the Curragh which caters for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Ruffley was ten years into her job as a special needs assistant at St Anne's School when she began to be bullied and harassed.

In January 2010 she received a final warning over an incident some months earlier in which she had locked herself and a pupil into the school's sensory room.

The court has found locking the door was common practice among assistants and that Una Ruffley was unfairly singled out for punishment probably because the school board was given an "untrue, highly biased" account of what had happened by the then school principal.

However Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill found the board continued to treat her unfairly even when they were made aware of the impact of their unjust decision.

She had to take sick leave as a result of stress, and has been awarded €255,000 for loss of earnings and psychiatric injury.

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