URGENT ADVICE - WHAT CAN A BOARD CHAIRWOMAN DO TO A PARENT?(23 Posts)
Please bear with me. I am a new member. It's a long story. My Yr 7 girl attending a academy. She's recently bullied by girls in another class. I made a complain to headteacher. She didn't do anything about it. So I complained to school board. A governor dealt with my complaint. I became friend with this governor as she's living near me and used to go to the same primary with my husband. So I trusted her and I eventually (how stupid I was!!!) emailed her how I and other parents felt about headteacher, by giving the governor details how bad the headteacher treating some parents. Then 2 days ago, I got a email from the board chairwoman, telling me a governor gave her my email,saying i was making false and serious accusations against headteacher (who I was told by another parent, went to the same girls' school as the chairwoman), and hinting she's now seeking legal advise on how to deal with me. I'm really stressed out. I'm worried that this chairwoman is going to do something to me and haven't slept well for the last 2 days. Can anyone tell what this chairwoman can do to me or my girl?
Anything you have said is about the head teacher, so I am not sure how the Chair of the Governing Body can do anything, it is for the head teacher to take any legal steps that they want to, not the Chair of the Governing Body.
I presume that you went through the official complaints channel of firstly to the head teacher and then what should have been the Chair of Governors. What was the outcome of the complaint? If I was the governor you sent the email to I might take that as another complaint about the head teacher and refer it to the Chair of Governors. What the Chair could do is decide that you are what is called a vexatious complainer, in other words someone who is complaining for complainings sake and they will then say that they will not consider any more complaints from you. Over and above that I am not sure what they could consider unless you have libeled the head teacher in the email.
Well yes, it was rather stupid to email the governor about the HT and you put her in a very difficult position as presumably you were emailing her as a "friend" rather than making a formal complaint about the HT which you wished the Governing Body to investigate. However, if you have a genuine complaint about the HT, I would suggest you put it in writing to the Chair and ask the Governing Body to respond. Unless you have a mandate from other parents to represent them, don't make any allegations about how the HT is treating them, you can only deal with your experiences to date. The fact that you raise a grievance should have no bearing on your child's education and apart from the Head and any other members of staff who are on the Governing Body, staff should not even be aware of it.
I don't think the Chair of the governors can do anything legally. They certainly should not take action against your daughter based on anything you have done.
The head may be able to sue you for libel. I think it is extremely unlikely but if it does happen you would need to take proper advice. Given the history I suspect you may be able to claim the defence of qualified privilege, which basically means the head could only succeed if she could show that you made the allegations out of malice.
Sounds like postering to me?
I can see why she passed it on. She is in a difficult position if it came out at a later date that, in her position she knew of certain allegations and did nothing. However, it's being used to intimidate you rather than to investigate the Head.
Thank you everyone! admission, I only made 1 complaint. (My girl was pushed onto the ground by other girls and the headteacher said it's only 'child play', part of the grown-up process because everyone went through that in their life) My complaint was something like (not sure what it really meant but i'm glad it's all over) 'informal resolved'? by the governor, who said she would speak to the headteacher at the time. I can't afford a lawyer as it's already hard enough to pay all bills. I can't prove if other parents were telling the truth or not. I don't even know their names! I just bumped into them on different days on different occasions like when my girl playing hockey, netball, tennis, or when me shopping, visiting library, waiting at school car park etc.etc. when i was just having a relaxing chat with a parent that I forgot to ask for her name or have asked but forgot her name afterwards! Do you think I should now go to headteacher, or email chairperson, to say 'i'm sorry' to end all this? Just too much stress. (I can't afford to be fined or to see my girl being 'targeted' at school)
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Thanks, admission. I just put down what happened to me and what other parents told me what they felt about the headteacher in the email, i'm not sure if I'd 'libeled' the headteacher.
Thanks, annh, I wasn't intending to make a complaint at the time at all. I'm relieved to hear fom you that my girl shouldn't be effected.
Thanks, prh47bridge, but do I've to prove I didn't make the allegations out of 'malice'?
Thanks, ShipWreckedAndComatose, I really feel that they're threatening me as you said.
Thanks, notfluffy, my girl is doing very well at the school (representing school on sport teams, flourishing also academically) so, going to another school has not been considered. (Bullying didn't happen again, touch wood!)
emailed her how I and other parents felt about headteacher
You have copyright on your email, no one is allowed to reproduce it (forward it) without your permission.
Tell them to stick that in their craw if they dare to threaten you with anything.
I am fuming on your behalf & think I would counter with a complete
Bring It On attitude if chair were threatening libel accusations. "Please do take it to the Police & Media at the soonest opportunity", I think I'd be struggling not to insist on that.
Do you think you wrote in the email anything about the HT that you didn't understand to be true, with evidence of its veracity?
I expect it's all bluster from the Chair just to intimidate and get you to back off.
I've had similar when I complained that they hadn't done something. They replied that they definitely had done it and then said that legal advice had been taken and I would be sued for slander if the claims were repeated (they didn't even know the difference between slander and libel so their 'legal adviser' must have been pretty poor).
I just wouldn't respond to be honest. She won't know if you've seen her e-mail or not - if she was serious she would have written you a letter and sent it by recorded delivery.
It costs many thousand of pounds to take a libel case to the high court and I can't see schools in the present climate having access to that sort of money.
Thanks, lljkk. Copyright of my email? never thought about this, a good one! one thing I know for sure is (I totally agree with some parents) the HT treats people very differntly. (In their words, HT only shows some respect when a person is 'relevant to her') HT wasn't looking at me when I was talking to her, she kept looking at her watch when talking to another parent etc. But when she saw a governor passing by, she smiled, waved hand said 'good morning' and approached the governor, leaving the parent behind just like the parent wasn't there at all!
Thanks, Crocusweeds. you're right. it would cost them a fortune, not worthy for trying to shut my small mouth up. A written letter? Just hope nothing turns up next week!
Perhaps, I should start thinking about how to 'stand firm' and make a point, making the chairwoman to accept that 'I wasn't on the wrong'?
I think I'd write back along the lines of "Thank you for your e-mail referring to false acusations. If you are taking legal advice I assume you have been advised to conduct a full and independent investigation in relation to the allegations which are: x, y, z and for which I have: a, b, c evidence. I shall be delighted to explain the situation to you further and look forward to hearing from you shortly so that a mutually convenient meeting can be arranged.
Further to my initial concerns about the bullying suffered by my daughter, I trust you agree that bullying in any school in any form is unacceptable.
Hopefully my concerns will be resolved satisfactorily no later than (say 30 days from now) when you will have had the opportunity to conduct a full investigation.
cc: Director of Education, LEA
Chair of the LEA Education Committee
Your local councillor (with a covering letter outlining the full facts)
Thanks, marriedinwhiteagain, for your idea of writing back. you've indeed stimulated me to think about writing back to make a complaint. I was thinking I didn't make a complaint against the HT at all, I was responding (after re-visiting my email) only to the governor's question of 'Honestly, what do you think about HT? She doesn't seem to be very popular with parents?' And I shouldn't be punished for being honest in answering a governor's questions.
Now after reading all the replies (THANK YOU, SISTERS!!!), I was thinking about making a complaint against the chairwoman for disrespecting me by wrongly accusing me of making allegation against HT, and for wasting public funds in getting legal advise when I wasn't making any complaint at all. But, will this a waste of time? will the chairwoman handle my complaint against her? Or someone else in the board will deal with my complaint against their chairwoman?
Would love to see OP send MarriedInWhite's letter.
Hang on, you never said the Governor actually solicited your opinions on the HT! That is a completely different thing - so she asked you what you thought, you responded honestly, believing that it was a private discussion, and she then passed your response to the Chair? Hah, I think YUO might be the one with the upper hand here!
LEA is above the governors, you complain to the LEA if you have an issue with the governors.
They asked you for a private honest opinion & then accused you of libel? Hahahahahaha.
Its an academy : nothing to do with the LEA : you have to go straight to Michael Gove.
No, you go to the EFA, not to Michael Gove. But I would be surprised if it went that far. If the Chair did take legal advice she should be told that you have no case to answer and that she needs to ensure that your complaints are investigated properly.
Thanks, lljkk, annh, Talkinpeace, prh47bridge for all your further advice.
I'm really confused first by this 'academy'. When applying the Yr 7 for my girl, the council told me it's nothing to do with them, the academy had all the discretion in admission, appeal, curriculum etc. So, I suppose if I'm to make a complaint the council will tell me the same : go back to your academy.
Second, I'm confused by what was a private exchange of views has now become a '3 person' business (i.e. chairwoman jumping in) or even 4 when a lawyer rushing in! What was a honest and helpful feedback (i.e. I was in good faith) has now become a 'serious allegation'.
Perhaps I should quietly attend the coming board meeting to see what is really happening (to me). But is the school obliged to give parents the dates of board meeting? Are parents allowed to attend a board meeting?
I'm so confused that why this chairwoman so determined to 'shut me up', even goes as far as threatening me with legal actions - did she think I was trying to do something to damage her 'close ally' headteacher (attending the same girls' school) Or is it something more going on between these two persons? Just too much to take in.
Just hope no 'registered letter' from the chairwoman coming in tomorrow!
It is often the case that parents have to apply direct to an academy for a place in its first year of operation. Thereafter it must take part in the co-ordinated admissions scheme run by the LA. The academy sets its own admission criteria but they must comply with the Admissions Code. Similarly they are responsible for arranging their own admission appeals. In all of this they are in the same position as VA schools.
Moving away from the specific of admissions, the council only has limited oversight of an academy. Even if it was not an academy the LA has less control than many people seem to think. There is no guarantee the LA would get involved in this dispute. They may well take the view it is a matter for the governors to sort out.
You have no right to attend a meeting of the governors. They may allow you to do so but they do not have to hold meetings in public nor do they have to notify parents of dates.
Is this a sponsored academy? If you would like to PM me the name of the school concerned I may be able to give some additional advice but no guarantees.
Thanks, prh47bridge, for your advice and offering of additional advice. I'm not sure if ours is a sponsored or not. Please understand I can't reveal the name of the academy even in private. I was trying to delete some of the information I posted earlier (but just found out I can't actually do it) - I'm worried that I might have already been identified! And then the chairwoman accuses me of 'libel'? Just want thte whole thing goes away really.
Anything you say to me is in complete confidence.
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