Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Principal writes to parents to apologise for ‘sluts and scruffs’ school row

Kathleen Gormley at the send-off earlier this year from her previous school, St Cecilia's in Derry, where she spent 10 years as principal

The principal at the centre of a “sluts and scruffs” row has apologised to parents for the upset she has caused.

Parents whose children attend Hazelwood Integrated College yesterday received a written apology from Kathleen Gormley.

It comes after a row between the headmistress and parents over allegations that she told pupils “this is not a school for sluts or scruffs”.

The letter said: “As you are no doubt aware, Hazelwood Integrated College has had some media attention over the last few days. This is an unfortunate situation for which I take full responsibility.

“I am not going to revisit the full content or the circumstances leading up to this assembly, however, some of the language I used caused upset, for this I apologise.”

The correspondence, posted to pupils’ homes, is typed on headed note paper and includes the school’s motto ‘facta non verba’ — ‘deeds not words’. It was also signed by a member of the school’s board of governors, Eoin McCrea.

Ms Gormley has invited the parents of the 870 pupils to a meeting in the college next month to outline her vision for the north Belfast school.

“This vision for the future is based on the belief that the students of Hazelwood deserve the best,” she said in the letter.

It comes at the same time as the Facebook page set up last week criticising Ms Gormley has been removed from the internet.

Creator Gina Crowe, who has children at Hazelwood, said following communication between the principal and parents there was “no need for it”.

Commenting on the letter, parent Stephen Logue said: “If she had come out at the start and said ‘yes, I did say those words, but it was in the heat of the moment’ I maybe would have understood.”

Mr Logue said he is “110% behind” the principal’s ambition.

“See if she changes the school around and all the kids get good grades then I am certainly behind her 110%,” he stated.

But Mr Logue added that he did not believe all parents would be as sympathetic.

Ms Gormley was unavailable for comment.

Why I applaud this teacher’s|tough love stand: Page 35

Story so far

Hazelwood Integrated College hit the headlines on Tuesday when a stand-off emerged between parents and principal Kathleen Gormley. Parents claimed Ms Gormley had told pupils “this is not a school for sluts or scruffs”. She denied calling pupils’ names. Some parents are also unhappy with the strict approach of the highly respected principal. Changes she has introduced include having teachers being called by their title and surname, long hair having to be tied up and a ban on body piercings and make-up.

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