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Inept Local Authority investigaton

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by anon-teacher, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. I just wanted to highlight major failings in the ‘diciplinary procedure’ I am involved in.
    I was suspended about 6 months ago for ‘Child Protection’ issues. I was duly interviewed by the police who threw out the case pretty quickly (as in the same day). The complaint made involved many elements that made it sound like I was grooming a child. In all there were about 10 core allegations, all but 2 were completely false and were proven to be so by the police. The two complaints that had some element of truth were twisted and not representative of what happened. What did happen was innocent, and although in hindsight I would have done some things differenty – nothing wrong was done.

    When the police threw out the case I assumed that was it. Nope – I was told that I would continue to be on suspension unit a disciplinary enquiry would take place. This would involve me giving a statement, which would be evaluated along with other evidence to see if a full hearing would take place. A bit silly, but we all support Child Protection so I went with it (not that I had any choice). I heard noting for 5 months, other than a couple of ‘notice of continued suspension’ letters. During this time I spiralled into depression, and a fear of being around children. I was that paranoid.
    Well, the time cane to give my statement. I couldn’t sleep the night before so I arrived so tired. The process of giving a statement is not like I thought. I was sat at one side of a table with my union official, the ‘investigator’ and his minion at the other side. This is where my main concerns were heightened.
    The investigator would ask a question. He would then ask another. He would then go back and ask the same question again in a different way. It was an interigation – not an interview.
    Shortly after starting, and before we had discussed very much, he said (and I quote) “It is no doubt to me that you have acted un profesionaly.” As we had not yet discussed the full case at that point, he could only have arrived at that conclusion from statements given by others. That is not fair.
    He said that he had not interviewed the child. I know the police had, but as around ¾ of what he had said was proven to be lies, you would think that he would.
    He wanted exact dates for everything. I said I could check my plans and get back to him. This was not good enough. He wanted me to recall exact dates of a minor incident that happened over a year ago from the top of my head.
    I was told that I didn’t get on with a teacher at the school – which was news to me. He asked why I didn’t get on with them. I said that I thought I got on with everyone, and when asked who this person was – he refused to give me any further information.
    He asked me if I believed that during one of the incidents that occurred I acted appropriatly. I answered by saying that although I feel that I hadn’t done anything wrong, I would certainly handle it differently in the future. He would not accept this and demanded a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. I refused to give him one, but he seemed unable to accept my answer.
    What happened afterwards was even more bizarre. The ‘minion’ typed up my statement from what was said in the interview. I would say 1/3 of it was not representative of what I said, was assumed and a part even seemed as if it had been taken from another person’s statement. I have had to make changes because it wasn’t right. Bizarely, the statement had to be approved by the investigating officer. Ultimatly the local authority could refuse to take my statement as it is not what they want.
    One of the most bizarre things happened towards the end of the ‘statement giving’. It was indicated by the investigating officer that this wouldn’t have happened or been an issue if I was a woman! I was shocked, I think the note taker was too. My union guy has been awful, and didn’t seem to notice. The police woman and lawyer joked that this was the case after the police interview, but I thought that was fine as they threw the case out. I really will be pushing for audio recording if I have to ever do anything like this again.
    Anyway, I was told that it will likely go to a hearing which I can’t really be bothered with. The whole procedure has left me not wanting to step foot in a school again, or work with children.
    Sorry for the rant – I just really needed to get it of my chest.

  2. You have been badly let down by your union and you deserve at the very least an explanation of why they think it's OK to take your money in subs and then drop you in it. Contact the regional office and ask for someone who you can talk to there.
    It might be worthwhile seeking out independent legal help - a no-win, no fee firm might take this on.
    There but for the grace of god goes any one of us.
    And if nobody will give you the support you need - think about a weekly magazine and sell your story. I'm being absolutely serious about that. At least you'll get some cash out of the situation.
  3. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I am so sorry that you have been through this. Without publishing details here, I have been through something similar - and won - and am now suing. Fortunately my union has been amazing and continues to be so.
    I would urge you to contact your union at regional or national level and complain in the strongest terms. If you still get no joy, you can complain to the TUC. You deserve to be properly represented and it's what you pay your subs for.
    If you think I might be of any use to you, please do not hesitate to PM me. I am of course no expert, but I have now been through a lot and am more aware than some of what it is possible to achieve, not only within the law but also by utilising disciplinary and grievance procedures to assist you. One thing I would say is that I found the GTC invaluable in getting a fair assessment of what had happened to me. I know the GTC comes in for a lot of stick - rightly, in some areas. However, when faced with a biased, internal, kangaroo-court scenario, a GTC investigating committee provides the first opportunity to be given a fair hearing. They took one look at what had happened to me and threw it out.
  4. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    Sorry - have just seen OGW's response. I have found OGW's responses invariably wise. However, I would caution against taking your story to the media! The 'whistleblowing' law (Public Interest Disclosure Act) does offer protection to employees who report problems but there is guidance about the way employees do this and you should not assume you are protected.
    Check out the website of the organisation 'Public Concern at Work' for precise information about this. Their helpline is also excellent.
  5. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    How high up in the union were they? For a grievance that was going to an Employment Tribunal I had the second in charge of the union.
    Go and get legal advice from an employment solicitor. The first half hour should be free. If you have more than 51% chance of winning at a tribunal your insurance company may pay.
    Don't post any more information on the internet as you could comproise your position.
  6. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Some wise advice from others.
    1) Definitly pursue more competant union advice at a higher level.
    2) seek other legal support if necessary (remember this will be with you for the rest of your life)
    3) get this thread pulled. You have already disclosed enough in a public forum to identify yourself and compromise your position.
  7. Anon - While it doesn't help directly, your experience is not untypical.

    'Kangaroo courts' -- Never ! -- Our systems are both fair and reliable.

    Clearly i have no knowledge of your case and while your focus has been on the actual case, I am guessing their is a bigger picture and you are a pawn. Had their been appropriate support from the school management at the outset, would the case have developed the way it has.

    Please have a look at some of the workplace bullying threads just in case some bells ring. A good starting point might be --
    <h3>Is your boss a psychopath or a narcissist</h3>then
    <h3>The most dangerous bullies 'bully by stealth'</h3>if neither are relevant, thats good news. If either is, then you have the starting point for getting a handle on things.

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