Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

'Absolute despair' of principal Annabel Scott caught up in school row and now forced to flee home with family following new threat

Dr Scott has been on leave from the school for three years
Dr Scott has been on leave from the school for three years
Crumlin Integrated College is at centre of row with parents
Crumlin Integrated College is at centre of row with parents

The treatment of a school principal forced to flee her home with her family after a threat has been described as an "absolute disgrace".

Dr Annabel Scott and her family left their home last week following a sinister threat that a group of parents were going to call there. It is the second threat she has received and the most serious yet.

The Crumlin Integrated College principal has been on leave for three years following a damning inspectors' report in 2010.

Dr Scott was temporarily removed from the top post to undergo additional training, and was subsequently officially suspended while the board of governors investigated disciplinary claims arising from the report.

Parents staged a protest outside the school in June 2012 when she returned.

She left work again after receiving a death threat sent by email in August 2012 warning her to stay away.

Fern Turner, regional officer for the National Association of Head Teachers, told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that Dr Scott was in "absolute despair", revealing that all of her papers had been removed from her office in her absence and dumped.

"She is just in absolute despair. She started at the school when she was a young teacher, her career has been spent in Crumlin, she is devoted to the children and the community," she said.

"It has also been horrendous for her whole family, and she lost her mother in the middle of it all, too.

"I can understand the anger and frustration of the parents because of how all of this (the inspectors' report) was presented, but unfortunately Annabel Scott has become the victim of this.

"The parents are very fond of their school and are aware of the decline since Annabel's suspension, and unfortunately they are blaming that on Annabel when in fact she has not been in the school for over three years.

"Crumlin was a successful school before this, no ifs or buts about that. Before Annabel's suspension it was a school of 400, its results were above the Northern Ireland average.

"What has happened is extremely sad.

"I know that the population of Crumlin has changed over recent years, but I think every community needs to treat it with respect."

Ms Turner said Dr Scott was not well enough to speak to the media yesterday.

South Antrim DUP MP William McCrea said for a teacher to be treated like this was indefensible.

"Whatever difficulties there are at the school, for an educationalist to be subject to treatment like this by any person is an absolute disgrace," he said.

"Those responsible for this threat need to take a long, hard look at themselves and I would urge anyone who knows the identity of the perpetrator to share it with the PSNI."

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: "We do not discuss the security of any individual. However, if we receive information that a person's life may be at risk we will inform the relevant persons. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."

The number of pupils at Crumlin has dropped from 400 to 140 in the last few years with only nine joining the most recent Year 8. Ms Turner pointed out that the fall in student numbers came when Dr Scott was not at the school, and therefore cannot be blamed on her. But local parents have said they are unwilling to send their children there while Dr Scott is still officially the principal, though they say that they do not want to have to send their children to another school.

Yesterday, the North Eastern Education and Library board discussed the future of the school.

A final decision on whether it will be closed is expected to be taken next month.

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