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school probe Gardaí alerted after ‘inappropriate’ men got into online class for school children

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A NUMBER of male adults gained access to an online class of second year students at a post-primary school this week and engaged in inappropriate behaviour, it has emerged.

The class, which took place on the digital platform Microsoft Teams, was stopped immediately and school authorities have reported the matter to gardaí, the family agency Tusla, and the Department of Education.

The Co Meath school has also sent a message to the parents of the pupils, who are aged about 14, advising them of what happened and offering any supports necessary. It is understood a small number of male adults were involved in the breach.

The school, which operates under the patronage of Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB), also shut down the use of the Teams platform pending its ongoing investigation into the matter

The incident has prompted LMETB to review security settings on the platform to ensure online events cannot be breached in this manner.

A spokesperson for LMETB said the incident was “very regrettable” and that nothing like this had happened before.

He said they were continuing to look into the matter from an IT perspective to establish exactly what occurred .

In the meantime, they believe they have “removed any possibility of a further instance through the application of robust security measures on the online platform”.

The spokesperson said Wednesday’s incident had been reported to the relevant authorities.

“Both the gardaí and Tusla have been informed, as a precautionary measure.”

LMETB has also advised the Department of Education, with a view to ensuring that any lessons to be learned from it are shared with schools nationwide.

The incident has emerged only days after more than 900,000 pupils in 4,000 primary and post-primary schools returned to remote learning as a result of high Covid infection rates
.

Now LMETB has sent out guidance to every staff member in relation to settings on the platform, specifically about control over who can admit guests.

LMETB runs about 20 post-primary schools and details of the incident were shared with principals at a meeting yesterday. Separately, a routine meeting of senior officials from education and training boards was briefed.

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