Sudbury: Parents rally support for sacked governors

SUDBURY: Petition launched by parents demanding the reinstatement of sacked governors at a Catholic school

MORE than fifty parents have signed a petition demanding the reinstatement of seven sacked governors at a Catholic school in west Suffolk.

On Tuesday the EADT revealed that headteacher Pauline Lawrence of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Sudbury was absent and the foundation governors had all been dismissed by the Rt Rev Michael Evans of the Diocese of East Anglia.

Parents concerned about the future of their children’s education at the school started the petition which demands the diocese reinstate the governors or give a full explanation for the controversial action.

Following its launch at the weekend the number of parents signed up to the petition stood at 53 last night.

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Many parents, who all wish to remain anonymous, made their feelings clear on the issue.

One said: “We understand that there is a need for confidentiality but this is very different to secrecy. A pro-active, transparent and as full a statement, as is legally possible, is required to bring this matter into the light and re-build the bond of trust that has been damaged.”

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Another said the school had been through enough over the last 18 months and the governors had to be reinstated following the “disgraceful” action by the bishop to remove them.

Officials at St Joseph’s have remained tight-lipped as to why Mrs Lawrence is not at the school and Maria Kemble, currently headteacher at St Edmund’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds, had been drafted in to run both schools.

In a statement from the East Anglian Diocese a spokesman said Mrs Kemble had taken on the role of executive headteacher on September 20 after she was approached by the local authority to cover Mrs Lawrence’s absence.

Regarding the issue of the sacked foundation governors he said the bishop removed them, with the support of the local authority, after asking them to make written representations to him.

Parents angry at the actions of the bishop say they will remove their children from the school if the situation is not resolved.

Parents received a letter from the school this week inviting them to a meeting on Monday with Julie O’Connor, director of the East Anglian Diocesan School’s Service, to discuss the issue of the school’s governors and the future of the school.

A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said they could not comment on the petition as they had not seen it.

No-one from the Diocese of East Anglia was available for comment at the time of going to press.

Comments left by parents on the petition included:

- “We need our governors reinstated. They were part of the school when it was successful before all this mess started. I cannot believe also that Father Peter Brett, the school priest, as been removed from post, this is disgraceful. An explanation is needed for this action at least.”

- “I am extremely concerned in the way in which the foundation governors have been removed. Mrs Kemble had gone some way in stabilising the school and the action of the diocese has completely undone that hard work. I think for the sake of the stability of the school a full explanation needs to be given along with all details of future plans.”

- “It seems unlikely that removal of governors during such a turbulent time could be helpful for the survival of the school. The governors have St Joseph’s interests clearly at heart and are working very hard to try to preserve the school and restore many of the aspects of happy school life that have been lost.”

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