Governors Not Told Why Head Was Suspended

Head teacher, Bryce Wilby

The Five Islands School governors suspended the head teacher without knowing what they were suspending him for.

Over the weekend, Governors have been expressing their concerns over the process and the reason behind it.

It’s over a week since Bryce Wilby was told to stay away from the school site so an investigation into alleged discrepancies queried by Council auditors could take place.

We understand that two Council officers attended the emergency governors meeting on Friday 19th and most governors felt they had no option but to suspend Bryce as, if they didn’t, the Council would.

Some governors have told us they’re unhappy that their only source for legal advice was that which was offered by the Council.

And they still don’t know what the allegation is, or how long it’ll be before the matter is resolved.

Council Chairman Mike Hicks tell us he understands the governors are in control of the investigation, but the governors we’ve spoken to claim that it is the Council driving it.

The Town Hall has refused to tell ScillyToday who is actually directing the investigation.

Mike Hicks says the situation is “a complete mess.” He is in the dark and Council Executives haven’t told him what is going on, which he would have expected as Chairman of Council.

He says he has been “kept more or less on the outside.”

Lead member for Children, Councillor David Pearson, says he is also “in the dark” but added some Councillors have been told they are better off not knowing so their views are not prejudiced.

David says he doesn’t feel that there is witch-hunt against Bryce. He’s urging the Council Chief Executive to clarify some of the issues for the public without prejudicing any outcome of investigation.

Both David and Councillor Christine Savill have requested a meeting with Director of Adult, Children’s and Community Services, Penny Penn Howard today. It’s being called so members can get more information and provide a statement for Councillors.

David says he would have expected Bryce to be told why he is suspended.

Bryce maintains that he still has not been given a reason and the head teacher is now consulting his union.

 

Head Teacher Not Told Reason For Suspension

 

Peter Lamble, a partner with Coodes Solicitors in Truro is an expert in employment law.

Peter says that in instances of serious misconduct, an employer may wish to suspend the employee who is being investigated but must be satisfied it has reasonable grounds to do so and it must be for as short a period as necessary.

It is unusual that Bryce has not been told. That’s rare because it’s expected to inform the employee in writing of the reason for the suspension.

The letter should make it clear that the employee is suspended, why and for how long.

One possible reason to withhold the reason is if it is believed that it could interfere with an investigation.

After a period of time if Bryce isn’t told why he is suspended, Peter says the School could be breaking their employment contract as it would be a “breach of the mutual duty of trust and confidence” and that could lead to a constructive dismissal case.

And as the period of suspension has passed the first week, Bryce’s case could be made stronger.

We understand another member of school staff is currently on ‘gardening leave’ following Bryce’s suspension.

And Police maintain that they are not involved in any investigation.