By Andria Kades
THE English School board has decided to demote deputy head Antonis Antoniou following a tumultuous period after a staff member said he had bullied her, something he countered with a complaint to the ombudswoman outlining he was targeted for his political views.
His lawyer confirmed to the Cyprus Mail he had been informed of the decision taken on Wednesday but could not comment any further until he discussed the matter with his client.
He clarified that the complaint filed to the Ombudswoman, outlining Antoniou was targeted for his political beliefs that support rapprochement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, was still in place and there were no immediate plans to retract it.
Sources close to the board said eight members were present out of the 11. Five voted in favour of his demotion, two voted against and one abstained.
The decision, however, is no revelation to anyone who was aware of the letter sent by Turkish Cypriot board member Sener Elcil to the presidential palace last week. Its contents outlined a decision to fire Antoniou was actually made on August 3.
Elcil proceeded to say he believed that on the anticipated meeting, scheduled for August 26, the board would retract the decision and opt instead to demote him.
The chairwoman of the school board, Magda Nicholson, outright denied that the board decided to dismiss him, despite allegations saying she was one of the members that opted in favour of the decision.
It has still not sent the minutes of the meeting on August 3 to the lawyer.
Although she was unavailable to comment on the August 26 decision, Nicholson has always maintained that this was an internal matter that had nothing to do with Antoniou’s politics.
AKEL threw in their support for Antoniou, who is a left winger condemning the “political motivations” behind the majority of the board members.
They called the decision “an act of revenge towards a person with particular sensitivities that was actively taking initiatives to introduce good practices in including Turkish Cypriots students in the English School”.
It blamed the government appointing and tolerating the board’s majority, adding it would be conducting its own investigation.
The lawyer’s complaint outlines “a witch hunt” that began some 20 months ago when a female colleague filed a complaint against him alleging bullying. Nicholson has put it at far less, saying the complaint was filed in October 2014.
She put down the delay due to reasons concerning clash of timetables and two trips abroad the headmaster had to make, as well as in between school vacations such as Christmas and Easter.