Response to race issues

25th February 2005 at 00:00
Regarding the letter ("Race complaint is not a row", TES, February 4) from Mariane Cavalli, the principal of Croydon college, it is wholly appropriate for the Network for Black Managers to contact the college once the dispute between it and the senior manager becomes formal.

We responded to a direct approach from one of the complainants in the case after suspension and we would have responded as quickly to an approach from the college, had it made one. It did not. The only contact from the college came in an emailed letter from Ms Cavalli that I received on February 2.

It is interesting that she can state that there were "only" four formal complaints of race discrimination in a two-month period. In our experience, this is unprecedented in a single institution.

The network's raison d'etre is to combat institutional racism and to promote positive race relations. It would have been extraordinary if we had not become involved in what was unfolding at Croydon.

Again, it is unprecedented in the history of our sector that two black senior post holders should depart from the same college in such similar circumstances in such a short space of time.

We welcome the involvement of Focus Consultancy, nominated by the Commission for Racial Equality as a competent organisation to conduct the independent investigation. Its investigation will ensure that the facts of the matter are properly scrutinised, allow all parties concerned to put their case and make appropriate recommendations. We are confident that the outcome will be beneficial for the college and the sector, and it will allow all of us to move towards a sector culture of positive race relations, genuine equality of opportunity and management practices that are transparently firm but fair.

Robin Landman Executive director Network for Black Managers Wolverhampton

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