Union threatens legal action over school dispute

The union at the centre of a dispute forcing the closure of a Co Down school threatened legal action tonight.

Striking teachers accused Children’s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley of making “scurrilous and ill-informed” allegations against NASUWT during the Movilla High School fall out.

The Commissioner has offered to mediate in the dispute between 25 Newtownards teachers and their employers, who threatened to dock pay after they refused to teach a pupil they accuse of assaulting one of them.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT, said: “The Children’s Commissioner has made scurrilous and ill-informed allegations against the NASUWT.

“Her intervention has made an already difficult situation worse.

“We are now awaiting the advice of our legal representatives on the remedies available to us to challenge these allegations.”

Around 540 pupils have been affected, with teachers walking out last Monday.

The union met Children’s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley this afternoon over comments which it branded concerning.

Stepping into the dispute and offering to mount an investigation if the strike was called off, the has Commissioner said the strike was “tantamount to the corporate abuse of children’s rights”.

She added she was aware of the detailed circumstances of the incident involving the boy at the centre of the dispute and said she was concerned teachers were using a minor episode to create a scare story.

“This individual child’s rights, and the rights of every child at that school are being used as bargaining chips,” she said.

The Education Board has claimed the union rejected offers made and was demanding the pupil be taught in total isolation from other pupils and teachers in the school or that the particular pupil is requested to leave the school.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane called on employers and unions to keep talking to resolve the dispute.

More on this topic

Classes resume at strike-hit school in Co Down

Parents urge schools minister to intervene over strike

Pupil at centre of teachers' strike to face prosecution

Teachers await fresh proposals to end strike


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