Posts Tagged With: Head teacher
Sudhana Singh claims she was subjected to a campaign of unlawful race discrination, bullying and harassment
A “playground mafia” of racist parents were involved in a campaign to oust an Indian headmistress from a primary school, an employment tribunal was told.
One man was heard to say “bloody Indian woman should not be in charge of our children” while children were reported gossiping that their parents “hated blacks.”
Details of the racist remarks, made at the school which caters for children from five to 11 years, were given to the tribunal by headteacher Sudhana Singh who is suing the governers and Reading Borough Council for race discrimination.
Traumatised Mrs Singh, a teacher with 20 years experience, claimed that she experienced “deeply rooted racist views” when she took over as headteacher of Moorlands Primary School in Reading, Berks.
One supporter of the unpopular head was branded a “Paki lover,” the tribunal heard.
Mrs Singh is suing the local authority and the Governors of Moorlands Primary School after she claims she was subjected to a campaign of unlawful race discrination, bullying and harassment.
“I believe that the campaign to remove me from my post was, in substantial part, related to my ethnic origins,” she said in her statement read by the tribunal in Reading.
“The degree of resistance and hostility I was met with was much greater than would otherwise have been the case but for my racial origins,” she said.
“In respect of these problems both respondents failed to provide appropriate level of support but essentially adopted an approach which was detrimental to me and was less favourable compared with the way a headteacher from a different had and would have been treated.”
Mrs Singh started her career in South Africa in 1989 and emigrated to the UK in 2001 when she started teaching in Slough, Berks., where she rose to the position of deputy head.
In September 2009 she took up the post of headteacher at Moorlands Primary School in Tilehurst but continued to live in Slough.
Mrs Singh to0ld the panel she was shocked when a “malicious in nature” anonymous letter attacking her and written by “concerned teachers” was handed to the school governors in February last year.
She said she encountered aggression from a group of parents who were described by the previous head as the “Playground mafia.”
She claimed that governors were not supportive and many were part of the campaign to oust her.
The “deeply entrenched racist views of the parents” were highlighted during a discussion a member of staff had with a group of pupils, the panel heard.
One child said that “his Dad hates blacks”. This view was seconded by another child.
When the pupils were asked about famous black personalities like Michael Jackson they were alleged to have said to the staff member: “If you like them (black people) then he was walking out of the classroom.” The student then did this.
Feeling she would receive no support from the governors she contacted Reading Borough Council about “deep seated ” and “endemic” racism at the school and a complaint was lodged.
She claims the council did not conduct a proper investigation into her concerns.
Within the school, which has in excess of 400 students, Mrs Singh began a campaign of “renewed vigor to tackle the problem of racism.”
Parents and some governors then started a petition to remove her from her position as headteacher and she claims that she was given no support.
“I considered that such disruptive and devisive action should have been stopped in its tracks by the respondent but I was left to understand that I had no authority to prevent this kind of action even on school premises,” she said.
Mrs Singh said that she was left feeling traumatised and unsafe after a meeting with verbally abusive parents to discuss a proposed residental trip.
As a result she was violently ill after returning home.
During this time a parent was overheard on the phone saying: “Bloody Indian woman should not be in charge of our children,” she told the panel.
Another reported a child saying: Mrs Singh has to leave because she is Indian.” The child was said to have heard this at school.
A parent who supported the headteacher was branded a “Paki lover” was warned “if you don’t shut up, we will shut you up.”
“The events that I have talked about, that began from the onset of my headship at Moorlands, led to high levels of stress, anxiety and deep unhappiness,” Mrs Singh said in her witness statement.
“While I continually sought help from the local authority and tried to engage with the governing body, all my efforts were met with a lack of duty of care from both Respondents and intense resistance from the 1st respondent (the governors).
“I began to feel so unsafe when I went to school that I sought the help of the police.
“After the petition was delivered, the hostility I encountered when I went into the playground and after school, was palpable to me.
“Parents were in tight circle waiting for me to come into the playground.
“When I spoke of feeling afraid and under threat, I was told by the second respondent (the local authority) that I should go to the police.”
The council launched an independent inquiry after receiving the petition.
The report, which followed the investigation, criticised Mrs Singh claiming that there was a “climate of fear” at the school.
She said the investigation completely failed to challenge the weight and credibility of the evidence.
Mrs Singh added that she was later ordered to take gardening leave in July 2010, and claimed she was made to feel that if she did not agree she would be suspended.
She suffered a miscarriage shortly after being sent on gardening leave .
She returned to school at the start of the new school year. However she claimed that when she returned the onslaught of bullying, harassment and racial discrimination from both the Governing Body and Reading Borough Council started again.
She was bombarded with complaints from parents, with some being sent to her work email address very late at night.
She was signed off sick by her GP in October 2010 and was later diagnosed with depression in a severe form and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
She said in her statement: “I considered committing suicide on at least two occasions but received help from health professionals and my sister.
“Despite my determined and tenacious efforts to build relationships with the Governing Board, my constant request for help from the local authority, my passion to serve the children of Moorlands and my courage in facing up to the parents, my efforts were met with harassment, bullying and victimisation.”
While on sick leave she claimed she was constantly contacted by both the Governing Body and the Local Authority with a view to ending her contract.
“I have completely lost my confidence as a headteacher and feel unable to ever work again in the school,” said Mrs Singh.
“I have always enjoyed excellent mental health my entire life and the events at Moorlands Primary School have changed my life completely.”
The hearing is expected to last 15 days.
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A black headteacher was headbutted, had her hair pulled and was racially abused by a teenage girl when two pupils went ‘out of control’.
The 15-year-old called Alice Gabbidon a ‘fucking black cunt’ and also made ‘monkey noises‘, including ‘woo ooh’ noises like a chimp, Exeter Youth Court heard.
Prosecutors said the girl headbutted her and trashed her office at the Devon school after arming herself with a piece of wood – although this was not used in the attack.
The 15-year-old called Alice Gabbidon a ‘fucking black cunt’ and also made ‘monkey noises’, including ‘woo ooh’ noises like a chimp, Exeter Youth Court heard (pictured)
An 11-year-old boy and the girl also soaked staff with water bombs and squirted washing up liquid into the eyes of a staff member.
The boy, from Llanelli, Wales, denied assaulting Miss Gabbidon, and the girl, now living in Bridgwater, Somerset, denied racially aggravated common assault.
However, today, both were found guilty of the offences.
Prosecutor Beth Heaton said: ‘Two young people were out of control that day.
‘They had to be restrained on a number of occasions by various members of staff. They caused damage to the property and physically assaulted one of the staff over the course of a few hours.
‘There is no dispute between the prosecution and defence that their behaviour was disorderly that day.’
Miss Heaton told the court that the school in Dunkeswell, east Devon – which has now shut due to funding issues – catered for a small number of problem children and some bad behaviour was commonplace.
She said Miss Gabbidon did not use excessive force to restrain the two defendants.
Miss Heaton said the pair were disruptive when they arrived at school that day because they had been caught smoking in the toilets two days earlier and again on the day of the attack.
She said the boy squirted the soap into a staff member’s eyes leaving them feeling sore.
The girl, armed with the wood, then headbutted Miss Gabbidon before going into her office and trashing it.
During another struggle the girl pulled her hair and called her a racist name.
Miss Gabbidon said in her evidence that the girl had called her names and racially abused her before but ‘I just ignored it’.
She claimed the girl made ‘monkey noises’ at her and she expelled her for a short time.
She said the boy was ‘a follower more than a leader’.
Defence lawyer Warren Robinson said there was a dysfunctional relationship between the school’s management, headteacher and children.
The bench said the boy’s actions were reckless as they found him guilty of assault.
The JPs ruled the girl was guilty of racially aggravated assault in the incident which they described as ‘total chaos over a long period’.
The pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will be sentenced at a later date.
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