In terms of Article 22(4) of the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman Mr Anthony C. Mifsud and the Commissioner for Education, Chief Justice Emeritus Vincent A. De Gaetano, have sent to the House of Representatives the Final Opinion on a complaint lodged by two teachers who complained that they been subjected to improper treatment by another member of staff.
The education authorities ignored the recommendations made by the Commissioner for Education (the late Mr Charles Caruana Carabez) in October 2020. The current Commissioner sent reminders in January and February 2021; however, no feedback was forthcoming from the Department for Education.
The Ombudsman and the Commissioner brought the case to the Prime Minister’s attention last April. Since no action has been taken, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner sent the report to the House of Representatives for its attention.
Summary of the Case
The complainants – two teachers, assigned to a [Secondary State School] – complained that they been subjected to hostility and persecution by another member of staff within the same subject department, who had moreover (in the months before the complaint) also become the Head of Department (HOD).
The Commissioner found that a “schism” had occurred within the English Department of the above mentioned school, which was “serious, long-lasting and produced enduring effects and [which could] in no way be treated lightly.” He criticised both the ineffectiveness of the Senior Management Team (SMT) of the school for their timorous handling of the situation and the lack of common sense shown by the Ministry (then MEDE) is not taking appropriate action to diffuse the situation by posting the new HOD to another school when they had had the time to do so.
The Commissioner had recommended that for the current scholastic year (which is about to end), the status quo in the Department in question be retained (it was not feasible to change anything in October 2020 when the scholastic year had already commenced), although he did recommend a more careful monitoring of the situation by the school SMT. The Commissioner also recommended that the HOD in question is posted to another school for the scholastic year 2021/2022 in the best interests of everyone and that the Ministry should ensure that promoted members of staff be posted to other schools (and not retained at the school they served before promotion) in accordance with best practice.