Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Lies, Damned Lies ...

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is part of a phrase attributed to the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and later popularised in the United States by Mark Twain.






DECISION OF THE STAFF DISCIPLINARY AND DISMISSAL COMMITTEE OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF .... ...... PRIMARY SCHOOL

I write on behalf of the Governing Body of .... ...... Primary School to inform you of the outcome of the meeting of the Disciplinary and Dismissal Committee held on 26th March 2008.

The Committee considered very carefully all of the written and verbal information provided and then adjourned to deliberate in private on 27th March 2008, where they reached the following decision:

...

We have considered carefully both accounts of the suspension meeting and whilst we believe that Mr K... did make you aware that the allegations related to E.... T....., we do accept that you should have been informed of your right to be represented at the outset of the meeting.

The head teacher denied me my constitutional right to be accompanied. He then claimed conversation that never took place. He did so to discredit my honesty. The HR manager, Lancashire County Council, knew that I had not been informed as I had a conversation with him about the torture of not knowing any details of the allegation. I recorded this telephone conversation at 10.20am on 17 Oct 2007 :


We were concerned by your statement that no one with the exception of the police, had ever asked you to relate in your own words the events of 26th September 2007. We are satisfied that the disciplinary investigation meeting held on 13th December was convened in order to allow you to do so. We note that you took external advice and chose not to use this opportunity, preferring to submit a written statement.

“The investigation meeting is being convened in order for you to respond to questions by the head teacher.”
HR Manager – Lancashire County Council

I did not seek external advice; I followed advice provided by the same HR Manager. His e-mail, dated, 05 December 2007 14:31 :

“A statement will be made in order for your response to be recorded. This is your statement and you will have the opportunity to amend this should you wish to do so. Normally this would be sent to you following the investigation meeting and you would then be free to amend it and once you are happy with the content you will be requested to sign it. Should you wish to submit your own statement then I am sure the Headteacher would be agreeable to this.”

We also note that your statement at that time made no reference to the possibility that you had slapped the table rather than E.....

My statement says :

“As I have already stated in Section 1, E.... had been distracted that afternoon and had not been paying attention. The task that she had was relatively easy and in order to regain her attention, I tapped the table in front of her. There were pencils, papers, books, etc. on the table. E.... was not upset at the time and finished her work.”

Also, my police interview recording discusses tapping / slapping the table :

...

The Committee hope that you feel you had a fair hearing and would like to assure you that they thoroughly considered all of the information presented prior to and during the hearing, in coming to their decision.

By their own admission, they were not thorough, failing to notice that my statement did contain reference to tapping the table.

As for feeling that I had a ‘fair’ hearing ... words fail me !




I contend that the HR department of Lancashire County Council suppressed information that would have supported my case. The reason why they should do so is clear – to find me innocent would have resulted in significant problems for both the school and themselves.

There had been a succession of policy / procedural breaches throughout my case by Lancashire County Council and serious omissions. The school had failed in their obligation to ensure that I had been fairly treated and at least three members of staff had not been honest.

The determination of ‘truth’ was never a genuine objective – they were forced by circumstance to expedite a solution that minimized potential damage and liability – and that was to sack me and hope that I would remain silent.

Later, Lancashire County Council attempted to ‘gag’ me on two occasions :

Over Christmas 2008, I had discussed my case with a few parents who disclosed this information on a blog. They received an e-mail from Lancashire County Council :

05 January 2009 :

“Please note that I have been instructed by the Headteacher of .... ...... Primary School …”

“A further issue that I have been instructed to consider is whether the member of staff has acted contrary to the terms of her employment at the school, and contrary to the principles of confidentiality, in apparently giving an interview to you with (presumably) the knowledge that it would be published in this way.”


D.... C.....
Senior Solicitor, Lancashire County Council.
Legal Adviser to Schools.

And shortly afterwards, when they attempted to bully me into accepting a settlement contract that offered me a paultry sum if I agreed to not discussing my case with anyone - including my own family !!!



During my appeal hearing, the head teacher posed me a question - why should people have lied ?

I have pondered this question over months and a full answer continues to elude me.

Colleagues who I had considered to be close friends have done to my detriment and, even though I wrote a blog “Betrayal Of The Bystanders”, I still have no answer.

Part of the reason why people lied, originated from the prevalent atmosphere of fear and intimidation at school. For my appeal, I wanted to include character references from those who had known me and worked with me over the years. This was the response that I received from a colleague, a member of the school’s SMT, who I had worked with for 20 years :


Perhaps the head teacher and HR manager might be better qualified and experienced and could provide an answer ?



The chair of governors who had resigned in January 2008, remained as a parent governor and was present at the first session of my appeal hearing.

He is a man of sound judgement, experience and moral integrity - and he had demonstrated his strong determination that I should receive a fair hearing. He was not present at the second session of my appeal hearing. This was explained to be due to an unfortunate clash of appointments. Later, I received an e-mail of apology from this governor :

“I was on a course yesterday and came home quite late last night. I hope the hearing went OK yesterday. I wanted to be involved all the way through to the decision but was let down by the LCC and LEA, date arrangment for the hearning. Below is my email conversation with authorities regarding the available dates for hearing and they still went ahead with the date which I was not available on.”

The conclusion is that his non-attendance was intentional. He had been excluded to prevent his participation.

Nothing was ever going to be fair - after all, they had control of the rule book ...

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