Thursday, 6 March 2008

Time Bandits

“There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at and who steals what is most precious to men; time.”

Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

Since my suspension on 27 September 2007, 161 days, 23 weeks, almost 6 months have now elapsed.

Case Milestones :
26 Sep 2007Alleged incident
27 Sep 2007Suspended11
31 Oct 2007Police arrest3534
19 Nov 2007CPS - Case dropped5419
13 Dec 2007Preliminary meeting7824
26 Mar 2008Disciplinary hearing182104

The LEA document Handling Allegations of Abuse Against Staff states :

“Investigations should be completed within 15 days wherever possible.”

“It is recognised that there is a need for management, both at the school and Authority level, to provide some means of support to staff who are the subject of allegations of misconduct at work, or who have been suspended for alleged misconduct under the School Disciplinary Procedure. In such circumstances the member of staff involved may experience feelings of worry and depression; they may also feel isolated from their workplace and colleagues.”

“It is important that staff are made aware of what is happening in relation to the disciplinary investigation, as lack of information may also lead to further stress and ill health. In addition, it must be understood that the allegations may have placed the member of staff in a difficult situation in relation to his/her family.”

On 19 October, I was notified that the outcome of a ‘strategy meeting’ had concluded that the allegation was to be investigated by the police. Some 23 days had already elapsed and I was arrested 12 days later on 31 October. Another 19 days elapsed before the police informed me that the Crown Prosecution Service were not going to progress the case.

The following day, 20 November, the LEA informed me that the school intended to embark on a Disciplinary Hearing process and that I would be called to an initial meeting on the 13 December – some 78 days since the actual allegation.

The head teacher should have started his investigations and, in accordance with the ideals of the LEA’s procedures, this report should have been completed within 15 days; by 4 December.

From the date of the allegation to the point where the case was dropped by the CPS took 54 days – and it will have taken another 128 days before my Disciplinary Hearing.

It seems reasonable to expect meetings between multiple agencies, social services, police, school, LEA and ensuing police investigations, might take time. What seems incredulous and scandalous, is that it then takes a single agency, the school, 128 days (4.5 months) to then arrange a Disciplinary Hearing !

This protracted delay is not to your advantage - everyday is torture and it is remorseless in its effect. However, for your school and the LEA there are significant and strategic benefits gained by the deferral of a hearing.

Over 6 months, the situation at school will have stabilized and life will have returned to normal for staff, parents and children – you have become history and memories of you will be fading. If your case had been handled with greater urgency, the consequential effects of the outcome from your Disciplinary Hearing might have resulted in some profound effects and problems for the school.

It is easier for people to accept that you have been suspended – and, for them, it does look as though you are on ‘paid holiday’. Then they are not allowed to communicate with you and vice versa – so they will never know of your suffering.

For 6 months, the ‘system’ has wanted you to remain quiet and excluded for reasons nothing to do with the ‘investigative process’.

You remain passive and hopeful but in your heart you know that there can be and always has been one outcome – at best, you will never teach at your school again; at worst, you will never teach again.

The policies / procedures care nothing for you … and the people who are accountable / responsible do nothing … the ‘system’ is protecting itself; morality is not contained in the rule book. In the end, everyone will have ‘done their job’ and they can sleep easy knowing that they followed the rules !