Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Catalogue Of Disaster

“The Comedy of Errors” is one of William Shakespeare’s earliest plays, believed to have been written between 1592 and 1594. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical ...

My story is not one of comedy but it is certainly farcical !

The following blog entry lists, in bullet form, key elements of my story. To fully appreciate the context, refer to the previous entries ...

I decided not to release all the information that I have collated over the last two years - there is simply too much ... over 100 Mbytes ! If you do have a serious interest and requirement then please e-mail me and I will provide you with a download link.

If it is an enquiry by the media then please read my blog prior to requesting an interview. I am still trying to recover my health and retelling / reliving my account is a considerable ordeal.

My situation today :
  • The head teacher at Duke Street Primary School, confirmed that a member of his staff was dismissed for misconduct, reinstated — and then dismissed again for “non-attendance”. But he said “the original finding of misconduct was correct”.
  • Expenditure of over £25,000 in legal fees.

  • Health damaged - supported by Sertraline and Diazepam for depression and anxiety / panic attacks.

  • Unemployable - permanent CRB blemish.

  • No pension for another 3 years.

  • £350,000 future earning potential stolen.

Key dates : (Refer : Time Bandits)

  • 26 Sep 2007  
  • 0  Alleged assault

  • 27 Sep 2007
  • 1Suspended

  • 31 Oct 2007
  • 35Arrested

  • 19 Nov 2007
  • 54Police drop case

  • 20 Nov 2007
  • 55School start investigation

  • 13 Dec 2007
  • 78Invited for interview by head teacher

  • 26 Mar 2008
  • 182Disciplinary hearing - sacked

  • 13 Apr 2008
  • 200Polygraph examination

  • 15 Jul 2008
  • 293Appeal hearing - reinstated but alleged assault sustained

  • 22 Apr 2009
  • 574Absence hearing - sacked again !
    (Your employer makes you ill - offers no support and then sacks you for being ill !)

    I make the following claims :
    • I am innocent of the allegation that I slapped a child on the hand.

    • I am the first teacher in the United Kingdom to have undergone a polygraph examination in an attempt to prove their innocence.

    • My actions did catalyze a meeting of the HoC, Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families.

    • I will never stop fighting for justice - for myself and other teachers.
    I make the following assertion :
    • Children must be protected - an allegation of assault on a child must be treated with the utmost care – it can not be ignored !

      But, once an allegation has been made, it will change the life of a teacher forever - no matter what the outcome and no matter how good policies / procedures might become in the future !

      The school and LEA have an obligation to demonstrate that they are active in their intent to protect children and to be seen to do otherwise reflects badly on the school.

      In my case, I believe that Lancashire County Council embarked on a strategically planned damage limitation exercise - sacking me was the most politically correct expedient !
      (Refer : CSI Springfield)

    • Lancashire County Council reinstated me at my appeal hearing but upheld the finding that I had assaulted the child. This was another strategic decision that blocked the option to progress the case through an employment tribunal.

      The assault had been described to have been so vicious and violent that the child continued to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic abuse, including bed-wetting and fear when entering the school.

      The teaching assistant, who witnessed the alleged assault, explained that she had been so shocked that she was unable to help the child at the time. It took her 20 hours before she felt able to report the incident and only then after discussing what had taken place with the nursery nurse.

      There was agreement by witnesses that the child showed no initial signs of distress – she did not cry nor did any other children react in any way.

      If there had been such a violent assault, it makes no sense to have reinstated my position at school - gross misconduct is a sackable offence !

      Lancashire County Council had no choice – they knew that the case would not withstand the scrutiny of an employment tribunal. They also knew that it would be unlikely that I could return due to my health – they made no offer to support and assist my return to work.

    Summary of disaster :
    • At suspension, denied constitutional right to be accompanied.

    • Lancashire County Council never appointed a designated contact officer.

    • The school never agreed a designated link person.

    • Counselling support never provided.

    • Progress / review information never provided.

    • All contact with colleagues denied.

    • All social contact with the school denied.

    • Lancashire County Council sanctioned an investigation by the head teacher knowing that there was a history of significant resentment.

    • The head teacher rejected evidence that did not support his belief.

    • The head teacher’s investigative report was biased and prejudged. It failed to comply with Lancashire County Council’s investigative rules or those defined by ACAS.

    • Witness statements were not signed or dated. The content of statements were changed - explained to be administrative errors.
      (My statement had signatures and dates removed !)

    • Lancashire County Council denied that they were aware of the resentment by the head teacher.

    • Lancashire County Council intentionally excluded a governor at the appeal hearing.

    • The hearing committees were not thorough in their consideration of presented evidence.

    • There were close relationships between governors and witnesses that compromised any chance of receiving a fair and impartial hearing.
      (The key witness and another were governors. The disciplinary committee comprised a local florist and one of his employees !)
    Quotes of disaster :
    • “I knew what I believed and proved it !”
      Head Teacher

    • “Told to find out what the witnesses said and write down what I believed.”
      Head Teacher

    • “She had convinced herself of her own reality, that is how she passed the polygraph examination.”
      Head Teacher

    • “We felt that to use the statement would be a distraction.”
      Head Teacher

    • “The statement only served to ‘cloud the issue’.”
      Head Teacher

    • “I didn’t feel that character references were relevant.”
      Head Teacher

    • “You’re nothing but a media showman !” (Reference Don Cargill polygraph examiner)
      HR Manager

    • “Perhaps the difficulty you are having in answering this is you seriously disliked Mrs Watts at the time ?” (Head teacher chose not to answer)
    • “You know the position that we’re in at work. I can’t go behind his back. If he gets wind of it, I’m going to be in the shit really.”
      Teacher - SMT

    • “I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”
      Helen Denton
      Executive Director for Children and Young People
    Quotes of support :
    • “I have passed your letter to the Department for Children, Schools and Families so that they are aware of your views and to respond to the detailed points raised in your letter.”
      Prime Minister
      Gordon Brown, MP

    • “You are experiencing the effects of burgeoning bureaucracy and the consequent loss of personal responsibility and commonsense. I am sorry that Parliamentary rules prevent my involvement”.
      Leader of the Conservative Party
      David Cameron, MP

    • “Thank you for getting in touch. I very much sympathise with the terrible position you find yourself in. My heart goes out to you. And your position underlines my determination to provide more protection for teachers who’re falsely accused in the future.”
      Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families
      Michael Gove, MP

    • “I find it so hard to understand how in our society that you now have to present your own case and cross examine witness’s ! That in itself appears to go back to the dark ages when victims of crime were allowed to be cross examined by offenders !”
      Arresting Police DC
    Related quotes :
    • “Mrs Watts continues to deny smacking E.... T......”
      Head Teacher

    • “I believe Mrs Watts is guilty of gross misconduct for smacking E.... T..... and my concern is compounded by her refusal to admit the offence.”
      Head Teacher

    • “I refute the allegation – I did not smack E.... T......”
      Jane Watts

    • “I have to admit that my life and career have been ruthlessly taken from me by the callous and malicious actions of colleagues.”
      Jane Watts

    • “I would prefer to be treated as a criminal in a Crown Court than sit before my head teacher and his interpretation of justice !”
      Jane Watts

    Catalogue of documents / media :
    • Adverse Report Mrs Jane Watts - by head teacher

    • Why ask if head teacher had said this at suspension ?
      Lancashire County Council, HR Manager

    • Police Arrest Interview - 31 October 2007
      Jane Watts

    • Fear At School - Only asked for character reference !
      Teacher - SMT