Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Union’s anger principal was not told of death threat immediately

A teaching union has hit out at the length of time it took a principal of a failing school to be warned that her life was in danger.

Dr Annabel Scott went to Crumlin Integrated College to prepare for last week’s GCSE results totally unaware that she had received a death threat four days earlier.

Fern Turner from the National Association of Head Teachers, which represents Dr Scott, said: “The email was sent on Saturday, August 18, was not opened until the day before the GCSE results (August 22) came out, but Annabel was not informed about the email or threat until the Thursday.

“I am concerned that the email was sent on the Saturday with the subject ‘death threat’ and was missed. I also do not understand how Annabel was left in the dark right up until Thursday, putting more than her safety at risk. There were people in the school on Wednesday and Thursday — parents, pupils and teachers.

“At this time we just do not know who the threat is from and it makes it all the more worrying.”

Mrs Turner said Dr Scott had been left “shocked” and “scared” when she realised that “someone was out there and she did not know who it was, and she she did not know how determined”.

However, the union official said she was confident that the PSNI will be able to trace the culprit.

“She wants to see that person brought to justice,” she added.

“The police are working through a process, we are waiting on them to complete their investigation.”

And Mrs Turner is hoping that more answers will be forthcoming next week so Dr Scott can return to Crumlin Integrated College.

“We need to know who sent this email. We need to know the level of threat,” she said.

“I assume by this stage police would have known if it had been just a hoax, as it’s a considerable period of time since the email was received. We have to assume it’s a viable threat.”

Despite a tumultuous two-and- a-half years during which Crumlin Integrated College received a negative inspection report, was placed into formal intervention, the principal was suspended and then was the subject of a protest in June — the same day she returned to the school after a two- year absence — Dr Scott has vowed she will be back at the helm.

Mrs Turner added: “She is counting the days and she desperately wants back, but she is not prepared to put anyone — herself, her family, staff or pupils — at risk.

“Annabel is 100% committed to Crumlin Integrated College and the pupils and the community. She has given 34-35 years of her life to the school. She wants to turn the school around.”

Asked about the impact of the ordeal on Dr Scott, Mrs Turner said that she was “stunned” but “she is a very strong woman and has a strong faith”.

Yesterday, as 19 Year 8 pupils started at Crumlin Integrated College, a representative from the North Eastern Education and Library Board and the board of governors addressed parents about the death threat against the principal.

They also received a letter advising them that there has been no threat to the wider college community.

It added that a full assessment had been conducted to ensure steps are being taken to safeguard pupils and staff.

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