ERA rejects farewell bid by school principal

LAUREN HAYES AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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A request by suspended Salford School principal Marlene Campbell to be reinstated for the last days of term has been declined by the Employment Relations Authority.

However, the authority has warned the commissioner investigating the school to complete her task before the start of the new school year.

Ms Campbell, who was suspended in November amid allegations of staffing issues, had wanted to return to the primary school to farewell children at their final assembly last week.

In a decision released yesterday, authority member Michael Loftus upheld the decision of school commissioner Nicola Hornsey to continue Ms Campbell's suspension.

In his written findings, Mr Loftus says it was highly unlikely an appropriate programme to reinstate Ms Campbell could have been put in place by the last day of school.

Ms Hornsey's investigatory process was also now so far advanced it was favourable to wait until its completion before reinstating Ms Campbell, he said.

However, Ms Campbell also had an arguable case, and Mr Loftus warned he would be "more than amenable" to reversing his decision if Ms Hornsey had not completed the investigation before the new school year.

The findings also say former limited statutory manager Peter Macdonald suspended Ms Campbell because he was concerned about staff safety, but the authority found no evidence showing he put those concerns to the bulk of staff when reaching his consideration.

The findings note the reasoning for the suspension concentrated on concerns about the well-being of only one individual.

When Ms Hornsey confirmed the suspension, she reasoned the school could function with Ms Campbell absent, and "the potential effects on the emotional safety" of staff outweighed her concerns about developing a professional working relationship with Ms Campbell.

However, Mr Loftus said potential and actual effects were "somewhat different" and there was no evidence Ms Hornsey confirmed whether or not these potential effects would come to fruition.

Ms Campbell, Ms Hornsey and Salford School acting principal Craig Tucker did not return calls yesterday.

A further report from an investigation into the concerns leading to Ms Campbell's suspension was expected this week.

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