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Associate principal for crisis-stricken La Salle school

BY REBECCA BLACK

Published 24/03/2016

Head boy Peter Heenan
Head boy Peter Heenan

An associate principal is to be appointed to a troubled school in west Belfast where around a third of staff phoned in sick for several days last week.

A group of parents made a call on Tuesday night for the principal and management at De La Salle College, which has been beset by a dispute for more than a year, to step aside.

It is understood the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) yesterday took the decision to appoint an associate principal to work alongside the headmistress and management.

The board of governors at the school is expected to inform staff of the decision today.

The row between staff and management has lasted several months. Around a third of teaching staff were absent several days last week. All had phoned in sick. This has been happening regularly since last November after an incident involving a staff member and management.

Parents have been protesting outside the gates of the school for several weeks, calling for the issues to be urgently resolved.

Head boy Peter Heenan wrote an open letter to management last week, saying that the dispute, which has divided the school, harmed students "in both an emotional and educational sense". He revealed he was in counselling over the row.

Now a group calling itself the Concerned Parents Committee of the pupils of De La Salle College has called for management to step aside. "It is the view of this committee, on behalf of all concerned parents and pupils, that the positions of the existing principal, vice principals and current board of governors are untenable," they said in a statement.

"In order to facilitate the return of the full compliment of teaching staff, they should therefore be stood down with immediate effect, so that a full and thorough independent investigation of all that has occurred pertaining to the education of our sons, wider school curriculum and management of the school can be carried out."

The group claimed that the dispute had been going on within the school for 18 months and had led to "the breakdown of confidence, trust, respect and communication amongst pupils, parents and teachers".

It added: "This committee will continue to challenge and pursue the truth and facts that have caused the diminishment of De La Salle College and its reputation in order to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a quality education."

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