Thursday, 24 September 2009

Bullying condoned

Another whistleblower who's being victimised. Carol Hill, a school dinner lady, told the parents of seven year old Chloe David that she had been tied up and whipped by a group of boys at playtime.

And her reward for revealing this shocking incident? She's been sacked for "breaching pupil confidentiality". In other words, if a pupil is being mistreated, the important thing is not to tell her parents but to cover it up and preserve the school's good image.

Mrs Hill has already spent over £4000 in legal fees defending herself, and is preparing further action against the school. Her conscientiousness has led to nothing but trouble.

I'm sure every parent in the land would take her side in wanting to know their child was being viciously bullied. But the school seems to be taking the bullies' side and making light of their behaviour.

Angry parents have demanded the resignation of Deborah Crabb, the headmistress of Great Tey Primary School in Essex, and the board of governors. Mr and Mrs David have withdrawn their two children from the school, and other parents are threatening to do the same.

The good image of an organisation now seems to be so sacrosanct that any employee who tarnishes it, even to expose the corruption, criminality or incompetence of other staff, is routinely pounced on, treated as the guilty party, and got rid of by fair means or foul.

Instead of being grateful that they've been alerted to something alarming, those in charge act as though they've been mugged and relieved of their valuables. All I can say is, it would make me think long and hard about blowing the whistle myself.

PS: Officials from the trade union Unison have promised her full support even though she isn't a union member. The BBC reports that an anonymous businessman who says the sacking is "ludicrous" has offered to pay all her legal costs. She has received many other offers of financial help.

Pic: Mr and Mrs David, Chloe and Carol Hill

17 comments:

Baino said...

I don't know why she'd want to go back there frankly other than to vindicate herself. She did the right thing. Where the hell were the playground monitors, that's not just bullying it's torture. Terrible thing to happen to a little girl.

Leah said...

What an awful awful story. Is there such a thing as mandated reporting over there? There is here, and in fact the law says that adults-in-charge are obligated to report such things.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Apparently, "Lord of the Flies" is the administration's guide to setting policy.

I hope there are people helping Mrs. Hill with her no-doubt huge legal fees and that she will ultimately receive a large enough settlement that she won't have to deal with such managerial stupidity ever again because a special place in Heaven is simply not good enough for her.

Thriftcriminal said...

That's a disgrace. The perpetrators should have been suspended. Mind you, that came up lately in conversation, kids seem to get suspended regularly these days, and think little of it. Christ we would have been terrified of being suspended when I was in school.

Nick said...

Baino - She loved her job, which she'd been doing for 7½ years. But given all the bad feeling being created, she'd probably be better off moving elsewhere. I don't think we have playground monitors in the UK (someone correct me if I'm wrong) but school staff usually supervise play breaks. This incident was reported but the details were being deliberately concealed.

Leah - We don't have mandated reporting here, though it sounds like an excellent system. I'm sure a lot of incidents either go unreported or are hushed-up. Obviously if incidents are not reported, they can easily happen again.

Heart - I'm sure a Carol Hill support group will be set up very soon, as this case is getting a lot of publicity. I hope she receives a very large settlement as she has been treated appallingly. She would probably refuse a special place in Heaven as she was just doing her job!

Nick said...

Thrifty - The bullies should have been suspended, but more to the point they should have been seen and stopped before it got nasty. Unfortunately you're right about a lot of kids thinking suspension is just a bit of a laugh. A more effective sanction is needed.

conortje said...

that is so ridiculous. Talk about sending out the wrong message. Good on her for continuing her battle - that takes guts!

Nick said...

Conor - Sending out the wrong message indeed. Don't dare to report child abuse or you'll be sacked....

Rummuser said...

Students have been committing suicide here following ragging in our college hostels. Very stringent laws have been enacted but these things happen and predictably, till it becomes too late, exactly the same reaction from the institution's management takes place here too. There is however a growing movement of parents and lawyers coming together to make punishment tougher and one hopes that the low life will finally get the message.

Nick said...

Ramana - Suicide following severe bullying happens in Britain occasionally. Too many organisations seem to regard bullying as either harmless or character-building.

GayƩ Terzioglu said...

Punishment for doing the right thing? It's sick. But big kudos to the businessman who is supporting her case financially. I am glad that even in the face of madness there are people who put their hand up to come forward and help, to do the right thing.
Geez.

Nick said...

GayƩ - Yes, good for him putting his hand in his pocket. The cost of fighting the case must have been quite daunting. Probably the school was hoping the expense would shut her up.

Cinnamon said...

Our local school has zero tolerance on bullying. I can't understand this school's actions- surely the head would have been on the phone straight away to the parents? Sounds like a case of poor leadership in the school.

Quickroute said...

That's ludicrous. I hope she succeeds and sues them for a fortune. The kids need to be taken to task aswell

Nick said...

Cinnamon - Exactly, any responsible head would have told the parents precisely what had happened and what she was doing to stop it happening again.

Quicky - Yes, what action has been taken against the bullies? None at all as far as I know.

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh this hit home Nick, several years ago my daughter reported the continual verbal hazing of a gay student and was punished herself, not as directly as this poor woman but indirectly so that she had to leave the institution.
It really makes one question doing the right thing, doesn't it?
I am appalled, but not surprised, at the treatment of this whistle blower.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - How predictable that like many others your daughter was the one who was penalised. You're right, it makes us think twice about reporting wrongdoing. It starts to seem safer "not to get involved".