Ruling due in Romeo head's race case

14th June 1996 at 01:00
An industrial tribunal was due to decide this morning whether Jane Brown, the head who survived a media scandal over her refusal of cut-price tickets for Romeo and Juliet, is guilty of race discrimination against another teacher.

The outcome will also determine whether the Office for Standards in Education confirms her appointment as a primary inspector. The job offer, made a fortnight ago, was "temporarily withdrawn" at the weekend - apparently because OFSTED had been unaware that Ms Brown, head of Kingsmead primary in the London borough of Hackney, was involved in an industrial tribunal when it appointed her.

The tribunal heard this week that Matthew Otobo, a Nigerian teacher at Kingsmead, had been accused of hitting pupils in 1993. The charges were not proved, but he was not reinstated for another month, and a new investigation was initiated by staff over Mr Otobo's ability to manage classes.

He was finally reinstated in July 1993. Ms Brown and the Kingsmead governors deny any racial motive in their actions.

Ms Brown was catapulted into notoriety in 1994 when she turned down the subsidised tickets, allegedly on the grounds that Romeo and Juliet was "a blatantly heterosexual love story".

Hackney's director of education, Gus John, asked the Kingsmead governing body to suspend Ms Brown for alleged "gross misconduct". He was unhappy about the way she had explained to him her actions over the ballet tickets and he alleged there were improprieties over her appointment - it was claimed that Ms Brown had an undisclosed relationship with one of the governors. The governors refused to suspend her and after a long inquiry, concluded that these allegations were unsubstantiated.

Last year, Ms Brown's school won a glowing report from OFSTED, and her apotheosis seemed assured when chief inspector Chris Woodhead wrote approvingly of her in the Daily Express following news of her appointment as an inspector.

A spokesman for OFSTED said this week: "Somebody probably should have told us [that Ms Brown was involved in a tribunal case] or perhaps we should have known."

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