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De La Salle College parents welcome investigation at crisis-hit Belfast school

By Rebecca Black

Published 22/04/2016

De La Salle College
De La Salle College

Concerned parents have welcomed a decision by Education Minister John O'Dowd to order an independent investigation into a staff absences dispute at De La Salle College.

While the Sinn Fein Minister was previously reluctant to sanction the probe, he went ahead after receiving new details from parents and other sources linked to the west Belfast school.

The U-turn comes after this paper on Wednesday reported how the INTO teaching union had instructed its members not to co-operate with school principal Claire White.

The new investigation will look at staff relationships, senior leadership, governance of the school and the impact of the ongoing dispute on pupils.

The Concerned Parents Committee welcomed the move. "We have worked tirelessly over many weeks calling for this investigation," it said in a statement.

"We have spent many, many hours compiling a dossier, and we can proudly say that our efforts have paid off.

"We believe that the investigation will answer our questions, clarify any confusion and get to the core of what has been going on at the school."

The group also thanked Mr O'Dowd for ordering the probe.

The Education Minister said he expected a report by the early summer. "My priority remains the education of these young people," he added.

"Work continues to be undertaken by the relevant authorities and associate principal Imelda Jordan to address the immediate concerns within the school, and this investigation will not impede that important work. However, it is important to independently review all the circumstances that gave rise to this serious situation and to come up with recommendations that will ensure the school's success."

The scope of the investigation will cover the implementation of key policies, staff welfare, work relationships, governance arrangements and more.

The probe can be broadened if those in charge feel it necessary to do so. The Department of Education will shortly finalise the arrangements for appointing the investigators.

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