THE principal of Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom has stressed that he has not resigned and that he has “every hope” of resuming his position as soon as possible.
Staff at the school were told in recent weeks that Noel Malone had gone on leave and that an acting principal would be put in place in the interim.
The school has been at the centre of an industrial relations dispute in recent months, after Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) staff members voted in February to take industrial action over management practices.
Since then, the Labour Relations Commission has carried out a review of the situation and has issued a number of recommendations.
A spokeswoman for Mr Malone said he could not comment on his reasons for being on leave “for reasons of confidentiality and legality”.
However, she pointed out that the LRC review was undertaken “at the joint behest of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB) and the Teachers Union of Ireland, without reference to either school management or the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), who also have members in the school”.
She went on to say that the industrial relations issues in the school should be seen in light of the opposition by teaching unions at national level to Junior Cycle reform.
Coláiste Chiaráin is one of a small number of schools taking part in a pilot programme for the controversial new Junior Cycle.
“Regarding the current situation, Noel is gravely concerned that on the first day of the new academic year, many of the educational innovations and curricular developments in the school had already been abandoned or dismantled in his absence. These include the second year of the highly successful senior courses, some of which were being considered for extra point recognition by third level institutions. This move was in direct response to a local TUI demand, and was carried out without any consultation with teachers, the Board of Management, parents or students,” the spokesperson continued.
Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board has said that Mr Malone’s decision to take leave was not related to the ongoing industrial dispute.
Chief executive George O’Callaghan said that the reasons for Mr Malone’s taking leave are “private and confidential.”
However, he added: “I can state that it is unrelated to the process that is ongoing in the school.”
“We are working through [the LRC] recommendations with the staff,” Mr O’Callaghan added.
Matt Power, former principal of Ennis Adult Education Services, is acting principal in Mr Malone’s absence.
A spokesperson for the TUI said he could not comment further on the current dispute as it is still ongoing but stressed that members “have always been and remain fully committed to the provision of a first class education service to all students.”