Belfast Telegraph

Three governors resign from Belfast's De La Salle as principal returns

By Rebecca Black

Three members of the board of governors at a troubled west Belfast high school have resigned over the return of the principal following a leave of absence.

It was announced earlier this month that Claire White was to go back to De La Salle College following an absence of two years.

She had been on extended leave after the school was hit by a series of controversies and disputes.

But the board of governors said that given "significant improvements" it was "the right time" for her to return.

In a statement last Friday the board said it was fully supportive of her return and had confidence in her ability to "continue our journey of improvement".

Mrs White had issued a statement saying she was pleased the board of governors had decided on her return and was looking forward to working with the school community again.

However, yesterday morning it was reported that three of the governors had quit.

The BBC said that Michael Collins, Michael O'Hara and Nuala McCabe had removed themselves as governors.

Mr Collins, a member of the board of governors at De La Salle for almost two decades and a past pupil, gave a short statement.

"Regrettably, I do not feel that the decision taken is in the best interests of pupils," he said.

In a statement on behalf of the board of governors, Monica Culbert said that it regretted the resignations.

"We are grateful to the members for their service to the college and wish them well," she added. "The board will be reconstituted in the coming months and will continue to support the work of the principal, senior leadership team and staff in the best interests of the pupils and the college community."

The Concerned Parents of De La Salle group has voiced its concern about Mrs White's return to her job.

The group also called for industrial action over her return, and has urged teachers to ignore instructions from Mrs White, refuse to attend any meeting with her, and to desist from teaching if she is present in a classroom.

De La Salle has been plagued by controversy over the last three years, with both staff and parents holding protests.

In April 2016 then Education Minister John O'Dowd ordered an independent panel to review the situation at the college.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools issued a response on Thursday afternoon.

"The Board of Governors of De La Salle College regrets the recent resignation of three members of the board," the statement read.

"We are grateful to the members for their service to the college and wish them well.

"The Board will be reconstituted in the coming months and will continue to support the work of the principal, senior leadership team and staff in the best interests of the pupils and the college community."

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