A FORMER Denbigh PE teacher has spoken out over her nightmare legal battle and compensation for unfair dismissal.
Former head of PE Helen Price, of Howell’s School, in Denbigh, was awarded £83,537 and sacked headteacher Bernie Routledge awarded £216,898 after winning their employment tribunal in March.
Mr Routledge was dismissed as headteacher of Howell’s School for alleged gross misconduct. Ms Price, from Pantymwyn near Mold, Mr Routledge’s partner at the time, was suspended and later dismissed due to an alleged breakdown in trust and confidence.
In March 2013 the employment tribunal found that Mr Routledge and Ms Price’s dismissals were unfair and the real reason for dismissal was that they had ‘blown the whistle’ on legal breaches by the school.
Speaking to the Free Press, Ms Price describes what she’s been through as a nightmare.
She said: “After two and a half years of fighting this case I am pleased that my name has been cleared by the employment tribunal, who recognised in the judgement the ‘malicious, insulting and oppressive’ manner in which I have been treated by Howell’s School.
“However, it is a hollow victory as the school has now closed and gone into liquidation, putting any sort of compensation payment in total jeopardy.
“I would like to thank past pupils and parents for all the support I have had for which I am truly grateful.
“Also my family and friends who have been a tower of strength to me and finally to my legal representatives at Brabners who have been absolutely brilliant in their professionalism and support throughout this truly awful nightmare”.
The tribunal found that Ms Price was “an excellent teacher and very well regarded for many years by the children and parents of the school. She has been guilty of no misconduct whatsoever...and has not been responsible for any conduct which could result in a breakdown of trust and confidence”.
In respect of the school’s assertion that it had not been able to resolve Ms Price’s grievance about her treatment because she had failed to provide certain emails, the tribunal concluded that this “was a lie”.
The tribunal went on to say that “the school has behaved in a highhanded, malicious, insulting or oppressive manner in committing the acts of discrimination” against Ms Price.
The tribunal described the school’s conduct towards Mr Routledge as a “determined campaign involving bogus complaints and documents” and called the school’s procedures “chaotic”.
Nick Campbell, a Partner at solicitors Brabners LLP said: “In practical terms it is frustrating that, due to the school being put into liquidation, it is now uncertain whether they will receive the compensation they deserve”.
To clarify last week’s story, Ms Price was not sacked for alleged inappropriate conduct but had her contract terminated due to an alleged breakdown in mutual trust and confidence.