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BBC Wales's Hefina Rendle
"Her legal team says she was never told that she had to stay away from the school"
 real 28k

Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 16:36 GMT
Slap case officials 'pig-headed'
Suspended headteacher Marjorie Evans
Marjorie Evans' suspension is lifted
Education chiefs involved in the case of Monmouthshire headteacher Marjorie Evans have been criticised in the High Court for being "pig-headed"

Mrs Evans, 56, returned to the court in Cardiff on Thursday with the aim of obtaining an injunction which would allow her to return to her post at St Mary's Junior School in Caldicot.

She has been suspended for 18 months.

St Marys' Primary School
Mrs Evans wants to return to St Mary's School in Caldicot
She is fighting to be allowed to return to work after being convicted and later cleared on appeal of slapping a ten-year-old pupil.

Her school governors threatened to re-impose a ban if she returned to school while fresh inquiries were made into allegations.

The High Court was told nine fresh allegations had been made against her - mainly for shouting loudly at pupils.

Mrs Evans still facings a disciplinary hearing on these allegations - but her lawyer claimed the procedures leading up to it were "flawed".

Her barrister Andrew Green told the court that officials of Monmouthshire Council were "pulling the strings" of the school's governing body.

He said the council officials did not have the power to take the various measures agains Mrs Evans which they had,

Disciplinary hearing

Council officials had no right to recommend that the governors suspend Mrs Evans - or that an investigation should be mounted into complaints against her, Mr Green said.

Nor should they have interviewed her about the charges - but left it to the governors.

Mr Green also said the council's Director of Lifelong Learning and Leisure Philip Cooke should not conduct next week's internal disciplinary hearing.

"The whole attitude of the county council about the affair has been pigheaded," said Mr Green.

Monmouthshire council deputy head of legal services Therese Gray admitted in court that officers were never delegated to order the investigation.

Teachers outside magistrates court
Mrs Evans won the support of parents and colleagues
But she said the governors had asked officials to conduct the interviews with Mrs Evans for them.

The headteacher is applying for an injunction to force the education chiefs and school governors to adopt proper procedures during the disciplinary hearing.

Her lawyer claimed that the governing body had not formally adopted new procedures under the 1998 School Standards Act.

David Evans, solicitor for the National Union of Teachers which is backing Mrs Evans , said the main allegations against Mrs Evans was of her shouting loudly at pupils.

Nine allegations have been made against the headteacher - mainly by non-teaching staff at the school.

The judge Justice Bracewell reserved judgement until Friday.

Mrs Evans has been suspended on full pay since September 1999, when she was accused of striking the pupil.

Tried at Abergavenny Magistrates Court in July 2000, she was initially convicted of common assault and given a suspended jail sentence.

Education authority

Two months later, she was cleared on appeal and believed she would be free to return to work almost immediately.

But in December 2000 she announced her intention to return to work - and the education authority and school governors threatened her with further suspension if she set foot in the school.

They said it would be inappropriate as they intended to hold their own disciplinary hearing over further allegations of child cruelty and mistreatment - which is yet to take place.

It was at that point that the National Union of Teachers took out an injunction against Monmouthshire County Council and St Mary's governing body.

The council and governing body were ordered to reveal the disciplinary measures they intended to take against Mrs Evans.

And they were told to hand over copies of witness statements from up to 30 people, including parents and staff.

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See also:

12 Sep 00 | Wales
Judge names 'slap case' school
07 Sep 00 | Wales
Headteacher to remain suspended
10 Aug 00 | Wales
'Slap' teacher granted appeal
01 Aug 00 | Wales
Teachers back suspended head
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