School Governor ‘Hatchet-Job’ Investigation – Outcome
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, up-dating readers on the outcome of the ‘Independent’ Investigation into the bigotry and chicanery behind the ousting of the Chair of the Eskdale School Board of Governors – in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
In November 2014, the North Yorks Enquirer broke the story (Political Hatchet – Job 2015: Double Discrimination – NYE article – 9th November 2014) of how the Chair of Whitby’s Eskdale School Board of Governors, Scarborough Borough Councillor Mike WARD, had been forced out by Headteacher Sue WHELAN, who not only had no authority to oust the Chair, but acted in clear breach of the Equality Act 2010, having discriminated against him ostensibly because of his political affiliation to the United Kingdom Independence Party – though in reality because he opposed NYCC’s intention to close Eskdale School and sell off the land for redevelopment.
In the days following the NYE article, the national newspapers jumped all over the story.
- School governor told to resign ‘because he had joined Ukip’ (Telegraph report – 13th November 2014)
- North Yorkshire school governor who joined Ukip ‘forced out’ (Guardian report – 13th November 2014)
- Chairman of school governors ‘forced to quit’ after joining Ukip (Daily Mail report – 13th November 2014)
- Outrage after school governor FORCED to resign because he is a member of Ukip (Express report – 13th November 2014)
- School governor told to resign ‘because he had joined Ukip’ (Independent report – 13th November 2014)
I published again on 14th November 2014:
- Eskdale UKIP Governor – Dramatic New Twists! (NYE article – 14th November 2014)
Then followed a public outcry expressed in a series of Letters to the Editor of the North Yorks Enquirer:
- Eskdale: A View From Afar (NYE Letter to the Editor – 14th November 2014)
- Letter: The Eskdale Fiasco – Cui Bono? (NYE Open Letter – 16th November 2014)
- Anti-UKIP Discrimination (NYE Letter to the Editor – 17th November 2014)
A week later, on 21st November 2014, the local rag finally caught up on the story.
- Local Rag Prints Letter re Eskdale School Row (NYE / Whitby Gazette Letter – 21st November 2014)
So I wrote an Open Letter to Barry KHAN, who is the Head of Legal & Democratic Services at North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) – the Local Education Authority – in the forlorn hope of getting to the bottom of what was rapidly becoming a classic NYCC cover-up job.
- Eskdale Conspiracy: An Open Letter to ‘The Man’ (NYE Open Letter – 28th November 2014)
True to form, NYCC decided to split the investigation into two separate strands (obfuscation technique Number 1):
- Eskdale School’s hurriedly-appointed (Acting) Chair of Governors Sue VERRILL would commission a so-called ‘Independent’ Investigation (in fact, Chaired by a Governor from another school, Jane LEWIS, supported by NYCC’s own Head of Human Resources Haroun ‘Harry’ RASHID).
- Barry KHAN would himself conduct an investigation into acts of commission and omission on the part of Mr Pete DWYER, the Corporate Director for Children & Young People’s Services and Mr Richard FLINTON, Chief Executive Officer of NYCC – who had obviously failed in their duty of care to the incumbent Chair, Mike WARD.
On 7th November 2014, Sue VERRILL wrote to me stating:
“The anticipated timescale for completion of the investigation is ten working days and I will let you know if it appears that this deadline will not be met.”
I will return to Sue VERRILL presently.
On 11th December 2014, Barry KHAN visited me in Whitby, in furtherance of his investigation. We had a long, candid, co-operative and extremely amicable exchange and Barry KHAN left me with the assurance that his investigation was almost complete and I would be hearing from him very soon.
A fortnight later, in the late afternoon of Christmas Eve, 24th December 2014, Barry KHAN wrote to me:
I hope that you are well and looking forward to Christmas.
I wanted to write to you prior to the Council breaking up for Christmas and new year and to state that I have now had the opportunity of reviewing all your links and views on this matter. I have also viewed the relevant documents within the Council. As you know I am conducting an investigation into your complaint so I will respond in full when I have concluded that investigation in the new year.
However I do think it is appropriate for me to answer the three questions that you have raised directly in the interim:
I have found no evidence to state that County Hall entertained a visit from the Caedmon College Headteacher on the 10th October. There is no record of his attendance at County Hall in the registration book and no-one has a record of meeting him on that day.
Further I have found no evidence that a Council employee gave advice to the Headteacher on the 10th October with regard to this specific matter.
Finally, there are no definitive plans created by the County Council to sell and develop the site of Eskdale School by the County Council – there is no intention for the County Council to do this.
I know that you have asked for evidence of the above but I will respond in more detail when I have concluded my investigation into your complaint. I am sure that you will appreciate that dealing with two separate processes does not benefit anyone and I will ensure that the investigation is completed in the new year.
If you have any queries regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Needless to say, I am still waiting.
This is rather unfortunate, because on 6th and 8th January 2015, I was able to provide information to Barry KHAN demonstrating that he was mistaken on all three of his firm assurances to me. He has not acknowledged my emails.
But my contact at County Hall tells me that Barry KHAN has since successfully confirmed the accuracy of my assertions. This disappoints me, because I formed a good opinion of Barry KHAN when I spent time with him on 11th December 2014.
Clearly, in the meantime, either Barry KHAN must have discovered that he has been lied to by some of the NYCC staff whom he has interviewed as part of his investigation. This could explain why I have heard nothing further from Barry KHAN.
Or, alternatively, Barry KHAN has lied to me.
I hope not; I had him down for an honourable man. I hope he will visit me again soon to explain the results of his investigation.
Thereafter, I will publish mine.
Returning now to
Acting Chair of the Eskdale Governors Sue VERRILL, from whom I had been expecting to hear (according to her) within ten days of her email of 7th November 2014.
Two months later, on 15th January 2015, I wrote to Sue VERRILL enquiring as to the outcome of the so-called ‘Independent’ Investigation of Jane LEWIS and NYCC’s Haroun ‘Harry’ RASHID.
I was looking forward to an open and transparent report, confirming what I already knew – and have already comprehensively demonstrated.
It was not to be.
On 2nd February 2015, I finally received her crystalline response, which I present as an object lesson in evasion, secrecy, unaccountability and outright bullshit.
How about that?
- “The Governors will not be entering into any further correspondence on this matter.”
Mike WARD tells me that he has heard nothing from the Chair of the Eskdale School Board of Governors Sue VERRILL. No report. No explanations. No apologies. Nothing. Silent contempt.
So I hope that the parents of present and future Eskdale School pupils will form the inescapable conclusion that I have formed – that the overview of their children’s education has been unlawfully removed from an upstanding, accountable and democratically elected man of principle into in the hands of a gutless appointee with all the ethical integrity of a Quisling, a latter-day Vichysoise collaborator and a traitor to the ideals of honesty and fairness that we expect pupils to learn by example from those to whom their care is entrusted – all in service of a disingenuous desk-jockey who lives 100km away, and whose kids no doubt attend a school that will never be sold out from under them.
Whitby, you have been robbed.
Pass the bag, please. I feel a projectile vomit coming on.