A father who sparked a poppy row at a Co Down school has made a personal appeal for the intimidation of a teacher at the centre of the stand-off to be brought to an end.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: “I would appeal to people not to personally threaten the teacher. Threatening or intimidating the individual will not resolve anything. Let it be dealt with through the proper channels.”
The father-of-five’s comments come after it emerged the Catholic teacher at Dundonald High had been forced to stay away from the school as she feared for her personal safety.
It had been claimed that the young teacher had said pupils wearing poppies were not allowed into her classroom, but an internal investigation carried out by the school found no evidence to substantiate the claim.
The union representing the teacher has voiced concerns that the 15-year-old pupil had made malicious allegations.
However, her father has described his daughter as a “model pupil” who has “nothing to gain by telling lies”.
He said: “My daughter’s school report says she is a wonderful pupil who is a credit to her school and her family. The teacher involved in the poppy incident said she is an enthusiastic pupil and is capable of achieving a very good grade if she puts the required time and effort into her work.
“There’s nothing malicious about this. She did not even come home and tell us maliciously. I am the one pushing the issue.”
He has already handed two official letters into the school, to which he claims he has received no response, and has now called for an independent investigation to be carried out by either the board of governors or South Eastern Education and Library Board.
A protest involving dozens of parents was held at the school on Thursday morning and is understood to be one of the reasons the teacher decided not to attend work. There was also a police presence at the school.
Story so far
A teenager at Dundonald High School claimed one of her teachers said pupils were not allowed into her class wearing poppies. The pupil said she overheard the teacher making the comment to another teacher. The school carried out a probe but found no evidence to support the claims. Since then the school has been catapulted into the spotlight.