You're ill, your mother falls ill, and thenyou're suspended. What would y ou do?

1st September 2000 at 01:00
May: Not a brilliant month.Having got myself together aftera series of illnesses, I hear that my mother is to be admitted to hospital for the removal of a tumour from her pancreas. Not good.

Series of tests on me; chest pains, viruses etc; subsequent appointment with the cardiologist.

Wednesday: mother's operation (nine hours).

Thursday: cardiology for me. I share this with my line manager (deputy head) and ask for support. "Absolutely - whatever we can do." Good. Somebody's there for me.

Thursday morning: Mother in intensive care. As I'm waiting to start a Year 11 exam before my hospital appointment, my line manager "pops in" and asks if the head could have a word. Please don't let it be about my mother.

No, it's a letter suspending me from school following allegations of serious misconduct. Excuse me? Am I on another planet?

A nightmare three months follows. I cannot share this with my parents - they need all the support I can give. I try to contact colleagues. No one will talk to me. No contact. Everyone is afraid to break the rules.

Flowers arrive - from my department - with cards offering sympathy and support. What is going on? I seem to be the only person who doesn't know.

Written allegations follow. They're not true. How do I disprove them? Contact colleagues. Colleagues told not to respond.Isolation.

Mother out of intensive care. Pretend all is well. My family is fantastic. Professionally, I'm alone.

I call a colleague and friend outside school and say I need to hear a kind voice. She's over withinthe hour.

Get moving. Get organised.

Professionals countywide stand up to be counted and voice their support. I cry.

The hearing: I cannot disprove all the allegations. Based on hearsay and supposition, they are accepted as fact. The head calls me a liar. I take Rescue Remedy and hang on to my union rep, my supporting friend and my husband, all of whom are there with me. My defence is thorough. The disciplinary panel is given one-and-a-half hours to read it.

I can appeal.

I can't appeal. I couldn't take it. This awful isolation, the vindictiveness, the disregard for a human being. I couldn't go through that again. I'm advised that if it went to tribunal, it would be thrown out. So? Let me curl up and die.

So I go the way of all those who've been through this procedure.

To return or not to return?

To teach or not to teach?

To break down or to stand up and fight?

I'm a professional.

Twenty-eight years in the business.

Watch this space.

The writer wishes to remainanonymous

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