ECtHR to hear the applications of secondary school leavers
In May 2011, a Regional Examination Board (REB) at Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski invalidated the results of the chemistry section of the matura exam taken by a group of students. The decision was based on a contention that they had received improper assistance in completing their exam papers. However, a general note that the students initially received from the Board did not reveal which of the test assignments raised suspicions of exam supervisors.
“The students suffered devastating consequences of the invalidation. Having been deprived of the option to challenge the decision, they could not start the university studies they have been dreaming about and their plans for next several years could no longer be achieved”, argued Paweł Osik, firm’s associate involved in the case.
Proceedings before the Constitutional Court
The students requested a judicial review of the decisions of the Regional Examination Board before an administrative court. However, the court ruled that law did not provide an opportunity for challenging the invalidation of a secondary school leaving exam. Having considered a complaint in cassation against the judgment, Supreme Administrative Court upheld the first-instance court’s decision and emphasised that the possession of a certificate of completion of secondary education did not grant, in itself, a “right” to be admitted to university studies of one’s choice.
Eighteen secondary school students then complained to the Constitutional Court, opposing to the absence of the opportunity to challenge a decision invalidating the matura exam. They argued that this legal loophole violated their right to court and education as well as the right to legal protection of honour and good name.
In 2015, the Constitutional Court held that the absence of the possibility to appeal against the exam’s invalidation to an administrative court was constitutional.
The proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights
In 2015, the students submitted their applications to the European Court of Human Rights. We allege in the applications that a situation where the applicants are unable to challenge REB’s decision, which was crucial for the students at their then-current stage of education, constitutes a violation of the right to a court and a fair trial”, Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak, an attorney involved in the case. The students also pointed to a violation of the right to education and right to privacy.
The ECtHR’s communication of the case means that it has successfully passed procedural verification and the Government now needs to take a position regarding the points raised in the application. It has not yet been made known when the Court will hear the case.