Joan Sallis Answers your questions

18th March 2005 at 00:00
A new parent-governor, who has been to just two meetings has told the head he is unhappy with the school and is withdrawing his daughter. But he plans to stay on the governing body to see "how the school gets on".

I am furious. Our role is to support the school and be a "critical friend".

How can you do that if you have withdrawn your child? What message does it send out?

The chair has been away for a while, so I do not know his view yet. How can we best express our unhappiness about this if the chair decides that the parent-governor can stay?

This is an unhappy situation for any governing body, and I can understand why you are angry. You don't mention why the parent-governor is so dissatisfied. For him, there is clearly a major issue and he feels he must put his daughter's well-being first while continuing his role as a governor to support and improve the school.

There is no legal step you can take to remove him. The only sanction in law is if a governor acts in a way that brings the governing body into disrepute, then he or she can be suspended for six months.

I don't think that has happened in this case. If it had, you would still have to face the same problem afresh later.

As his daughter was in the school at the time, he has been properly elected.

He could stay until the end of his term if his daughter left in the natural order of things, for instance, or were permanently excluded.

Your chair might be justified in informing the parents of the facts, including his legal entitlement to remain. It would be very interesting to see what they did. I think the local education authority would have to sanction a fresh election if that were requested.

There could be practices in the school which the governing body could improve. No doubt he will tell you what these are, and you must judge them objectively if his case is put reasonably and moderately.

My guess is that he will not put it very moderately and that he may be a negative influence. But you can give him a hard time! He will be impressed if your faith in the school is sound.

You must do what you feel is right about serving on committees with him.

I'd be more likely to stay close until I'd found out how he is going to shape up.

Send questions for Joan Sallis to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 020 7782 3202, or see where answers will appear

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