April 28, 2009

Teacher sues over bullying claims

A teacher is suing the Education Department over an alleged culture of punishment and retribution at a state school.

Humanities teacher Paul Unsworth claims he was bullied and harassed by the principal and other senior staff at Werribee Secondary College over three years. Mr Unsworth told Melbourne Magistrates' Court yesterday that he became depressed and angry during a 2005 review of his role as an expert teacher.

He said Werribee principal Steve Butyn considered him to be dead wood and wanted to get rid of him.

Two other teachers also had WorkCover claims against the school over similar issues, he told the court.

Mr Unsworth said he was stopped from making email contact with the school and an investigation into his review was launched by the Education Department's western region. "I felt completely ostracised from the workplace by not being able to communicate with the school," he said.

An email from western region director Brett New that was accidentally sent to him and the two other teachers offered full support for Mr Butyn's disciplinary actions, Mr Unsworth said. "My perception was that I had no chance of getting a fair hearing," he said.

Mr Unsworth, who made several failed compensation claims against the school, said he was the victim of "a culture of punishment and retribution for speaking up".

Under cross-examination by Clyde Miles, for the Education Department, Mr Unsworth admitted he had been taking anti-depressants since 1998.

Mr Miles said Mr Unsworth had failed to comply with a request to accurately and sufficiently document the good things about his teaching.

Mr Unsworth is still employed by the school but has not worked there since June, 2007. He is seeking weekly payments from the Education Department as part of a WorkCover claim.

The hearing before magistrate Peter Lauritsen continues.

From: http://www.news.com.au


Anonymous said...

In solidarity.

I know just how hard this journey is.

Aphra Behn

Cindy said...

Im facing the same thing and as a first year teacher. I have had numerous visits to the doctor and was on a thirty day leave of absence. I filed a formal complaint and no action was taken now Im in the grievance process and the principal just told me today that she is writing to the superintendent requesting my contract be non-renewal. There goes my entire career and I want to sue the DOE for not doing doing something months ago before it got this bad. I feel so alone on this journey and am looking for any sort of help and/or ideas.

Rådgivende ingeniørfirma said...

Being a teacher is really a difficult profession. There's a lot of sacrifices you need to become an illegible teacher then after that there's a lot of rude students and small brain parents bullying teachers. They did not thought that teachers are doing their best for their children so that they will be a great citizens someday.

Anonymous said...

We have been experiencing that at SUNY Oneonta in the Music Department for the past 20 years. Three faculty members who also sit on the renewal committee continue to bash and bully junior colleagues.

Racist behavior is also commonplace in the department. Read about the former Dept Chair who defends the use of stereotyping in the classroom.