THE dismissal of Carol Hill, a dinner lady at Great Tey C of E Primary School, Essex, after she discussed a playground incident outside school (News, 2 October 2009), was judged unfair on procedural grounds at an employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds last week.
The tribunal criticised the involvement of the head teacher, Deborah Crabb, as investigating officer in the procedure. It also questioned the involvement of a governor who was also a parent of one of the children involved in the incident.
But a further hearing is to take place next month to determine, whether it was likely that, had a fair procedure been followed, Mrs Hill would have been dismissed in any event. Mrs Hill, aged 61, who had worked at the school for eight years, was suspended after telling the parents of a seven-year-old girl that fellow pupils had tied their daughter to a fence in the playground and whipped her with a skipping rope.
Mrs Hill told the press about her suspension, and was later sacked.
In telling the child’s parents, Mrs Hill had breached staff rules on confidentiality, the tribunal ruled. It also criticised her decision to speak to the media, although it said: “It is clear that, in approaching the local press, the only purpose the Claimant had was to retain her post.”