Head rebuts race abuse claims

Irena Barker

A black teacher who claims he suffered racist abuse from pupils and was unfairly dismissed from his job may himself have incited racism in the classroom, his former school head has told a tribunal.

Dr Emmanuel Forson, 46, says senior management at the Harwich School, a language college in the Essex town, failed to support him when he was regularly taunted and abused by pupils in maths classes.

Dr Forson, originally from Ghana, says he was a victim of "racism, abuse and persecution" while taking classes, and had, on occasion, been grabbed around the neck by pupils and threatened.

He claims that in one incident, a boy had drawn a picture of a monkey and told him, "Sir, this is you."

But headteacher Nigel Mountford told the hearing at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, that the school had received complaints from parents about Dr Forson continually raising the race issue in the classroom.

Mr Mountford said racism was never tolerated at the school, where staff members from various ethnic backgrounds were employed without experiencing similar problems.

The tribunal last week heard that Dr Forson had used racial and religious references during his lessons and accused members of his classes of behaving badly because of the colour of his skin.

Mr Mountford said that despite both formal and informal attempts to resolve the problems with the way Dr Forson conducted himself, a lack of improvement led to a final warning being issued and then dismissal by the governors last May.

The head said that even though Dr Forson was fully aware of how to report incidents of racism, none had ever been reported.

Dr Forson said he had tried to report incidents, but no information had been placed on his file and he had not been supported.

"It appears that the Harwich School has no concept of racism in school," he said.

His claim was backed by James Hammond, a black former teacher at the college who claimed he had also had difficulties. Mr Hammond alleged that other overseas teachers had become disillusioned and left or been dismissed.

The tribunal resumes in January.

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Irena Barker

Irena Barker is a freelance journalist.

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