Published: 13:00, 19 September 2014
Kent County Council is accused of unlawfully removing a head teacher from his post following a failed Ofsted inspection.
The authority suspended David Bray before consulting the chair of governors at St Francis School in Maidstone, it's been revealed.
A private letter signed by the council’s chief primary school adviser, Simon Webb, on June 30 this year admits KCC’s powers of intervention did not provide the power for the initial suspension.
The Education Act states that before exercising intervention powers the local education authority must consult the governing body of the school.
In the case of a voluntary Roman Catholic school, the diocesan authority must also be consulted.
Angela Black, chair of governors at the time, claims not to have been aware of the council’s plans to suspend the head teacher.
She received an email from Mr Webb one working day before Mr Bray’s removal. It told her to come in for an urgent meeting but declined to add any further details.
Then on May 13 last year, apparently without advance warning, Mr Bray was suspended in front of her, as was his wife, who was a teacher at the Queen’s Road school.
Assistant head Elisabeth Blanden was appointed acting head.
Mr Webb explained they were suspended because of allegations of misconduct not disclosed to the governing body.
Three days later Ms Black, vice chair Canon John Clark and elected governor John Jackson resigned from their posts.
A new governing body took over and approved KCC’s actions, which Mr Webb says rectified his decision.
Soon after, Ms Black raised concerns about the legitimacy of the council’s actions, but was told the decision was made with the agreement of Dr Anne Bamford, director of education for the Diocese of Southwark, and the diocese had also approved appointing the acting head.
However, an email exchange between Dr Anne Bamford and Angela Black calls these claims into question.
Dr Bamford says: “I was not aware that they were to be suspended and as a diocese would not be party to such a decision.
“We have expressed in writing the grave concerns that due process, according to the CES (Catholic Education Service) guidelines, are not being followed.”
The conversation goes on to say the diocese had written several letters of complaint to KCC due to its lack of consultation.
KCC did not deny it acted unlawfully.
A spokesman said: “Kent County Council has various powers of intervention which can be used to support standards in schools where necessary and appropriate.
"It would not be appropriate for KCC to comment publicly about the legal details of specific cases or the actions of specific individuals."