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Dismissal ruling costs city pound;126,000

EDINBURGH has run up a bill for pound;126,000 after failing in the courts to change the way it dismisses teachers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland challenged the council in the Court of Session over plans to bring dismissal procedures into line with other authority staff and won its claim that unilateral changes to the teachers' contract were against the law.

The council has now agreed, as revealed in The TESS of December 3, to revert to previous disciplinary procedures, which give teachers special protection, until the Scottish Executive agrees to amend legislation. But in a curious twist, Edinburgh blamed the EIS for bringing the action to court.

George Rubienski, teachers' representative, described the embarrassing defeat as "a self-inflicted wound" down to te "stubbornness" of the council.

The test case involved Peter Peace, assistant head of the Royal High School, who still faces "serious allegations of professional misconduct made by a former female pupil". The EIS challenged the council after it emerged Mr Peace could, if the charges were upheld, be the first teacher to be dismissed under procedures never agreed with the unions. Mr Peace was suspended in June 1997 and has been on full pay since then while the legal battle was fought out. The city bill includes his salary, that of replacement staff and QC's time.

His case will come up shortly, as will two other cases which were delayed while the judges considered their verdict. Any dismissals would have to be agreed by councillors on the education committee.

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