Inquiry at Hackney LEA is long overdue

23rd August 1996 at 01:00
Your report "Hackney damned again by tribunal" (TES, August 16) does not do justice either to Jane Brown, or to the Kingsmead school governors, who were subjected to smears in the national media before the tribunal verdict.

Your report states: "The tribunal ruled that Mr Otobo had not been the victim of racism but had nevertheless received 'disgraceful' treatment because he rarely knew where he stood either with the governors or the education authority."

Readers might well conclude that such an acknowledgement reflected some criticism of Ms Brown andor the governors. In fact, the tribunal found that "we can rely on [their] explanation in that they acted so far as ever they were able, upon the advice they received and guidance as well from officers of the local authority". Further, the tribunal found no evidence that Jane Brown or any of the governors "have dealt with the issues . . . in a way motivated improperly, or unusually, on account of the applicant's ethnic background".

The tribunal had strikingly contrasting views of the witnesses. Of Jane Brown, they write: "She has seemed to us to be a headteacher of very great quality and ability. We are particularly impressed by her demeanour throughout these proceedings, despite her still being the focus of much media attention. "

But of Gus John, then education director, and two of his officers, Ms Stenning (personnel) and Ms Goro (equal opportunities), they say: "We have misgivings concerning evidence." In the case of Ms Stenning: "We have found ourselves unable to place any real reliance upon her evidence at all."

The tribunal concludes: "It appears from the evidence Ms Brown enjoyed almost total support from the parents of pupils at the school and the only area where such support was not enjoyed was a small section of the local education authority."

Jane Brown has now been fully exonerated of dubious charges so often that we believe an open and independent investigation of the conduct of some members and officers, past and present, of the LEA is long overdue. We have written to the Hackney chief executive to ask him to act urgently.


Hackney Teachers Association

219 Mare Street, London E8

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