Cyprus Mail

‘Teacher hounded for his politics’

By Elias Hazou

AN ENGLISH School teacher has filed a complaint to the ombudswoman claiming he was being hounded for his political views.

In a brief telephone conversation, Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou confirmed to the Mail that her office has received the complaint and is investigating.
She was unable to comment further.

According to an online report, the teacher alleges he is being discriminated against by the school for his views, such as that he openly supports rapprochement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The man is now apparently facing a ‘disciplinary process’ by the school that has yet to materialise.

According to his lawyer, the ‘witch hunt’ began some 20 months ago, when a female colleague of the teacher lodged a complaint against him.

The nature of the complaint is unclear, although in his letter to the ombudswoman, the teacher’s lawyer claims it was a fabrication.

An investigation followed where, the lawyer states, the allegations against the teacher were found to be unsubstantiated.

In September 2014, the school launched a new investigation, again following a complaint. The teacher’s lawyer says it was subsequently discovered that the person making the complaint was not even present during the alleged incident.

The lawyer states:
“Up until July 2, 2015, they refused to tell him [the teacher] what he was being accused of and by what process he is to be ‘tried’, and in the meantime various frivolous accusations have been floated, interspersed with more serious, but nevertheless unfounded, allegations and incoherent claims by various persons, such as the headmaster or members of the board of management.

“So, for the last 20 months a sword is hanging over his head with the threat of a so-called ‘disciplinary process’ which continues to torment him and undermine him as a professional and an educator.”

The lawyer goes on to claim that over the past two years his client has been on the receiving end of direct and implied threats from members of the board of management, “who desire his removal from his duties and even his outright sacking.”

“This is being done for reasons clearly related to the fact he was, and remains, an ardent supporter of cooperation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as a proponent for equality and human rights and the elimination of discrimination, particularly in regard to all vulnerable groups.”

The teacher in question is understood to be involved in inter-communal activities and has repeatedly spoken his mind about the rights of ethnic groups and multiculturalism.

It is hardly the first time the English School has been rocked by apparently politically-motivated antagonisms among staff.

These became more pronounced after the opening of the checkpoints in 2003, after which Turkish Cypriot pupils were readmitted to the school for the first time since the events of 1974.

In 1960, when Cyprus gained independence from British colonial rule, a special law was enacted passing control of the English School to the Cyprus Republic.
The government, not the education ministry, oversees the operations of the school with cabinet responsible for appointing a board of management.

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