Belfast Telegraph

Death threat school head won't be back until culprit caught

By Chris Kilpatrick

A school principal who has not returned to work following a death threat eight weeks ago is living in isolation — and won’t return until the person behind it is identified, a teachers’ union has said.

Dr Annabel Scott, principal of Crumlin Integrated College, agreed to stay away from the school while police investigate the emailed threat.

The decision was taken following discussions between Dr Scott, the North Eastern Education and Library Board and the school’s board of governors.

It was agreed that should Dr Scott return to work, the safety of other staff members and pupils could be put at risk.

Dr Scott returned to work in June after being suspended for two years following a damning inspection report.

There was much opposition to her return to the post, with a number of parents protesting outside the school.

However, a parents' group voiced its condemnation of the threat.

Fern Turner of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has kept in regular contact with Dr Scott.

She said Dr Scott and her family have been living with immense pressure over the past two months. Ms Turner added that Dr Scott will not return to work at Crumlin Integrated College until the individual behind the death threat is identified.

“From Dr Scott’s perspective and that of the NAHT it is of grave concern.

“The longer this goes on the more stressful it becomes for Annabel and her family.

“She’s in a situation now where she is attempting to manage from outside the school, which is pretty impossible.”

Ms Turner said Dr Scott had worked tirelessly throughout the summer in preparation for the new term, and that the principal’s absence from the school is having a detrimental effect on the education of pupils.

“Dr Scott is in isolation to be quite honest,” said Ms Turner.

“I appear to be her only visitor because she is in a situation where we don’t know where the threat came from. Dr Scott is not willing to put other people in jeopardy.”

The North Eastern Education and Library Board said that for the last eight weeks a senior teacher has been carrying out extra duties in the school while the principal worked from another location.

Background

Dr Annabel Scott returned to work at Crumlin Integrated College in June after a two-year suspension following a damning inspectors' report. Parents of pupils at the Co Antrim school protested about her return — and in August she received a death threat by email. Now a review of Northern Ireland’s school inspection process is to be carried out in consultation with teaching unions after it was found to be flawed.

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