Independent investigation to be carried out into events at De La Salle College

De La Salle school in West Belfast
De La Salle school in West Belfast

Education Minister John O’Dowd has ordered an independent investigation into events at the troubled De La Salle College in Belfast.

The school - which has 1100 pupils - has been in turmoil for several months after a breakdown in relations between some of the 70-strong teaching staff and principal Claire White.

The news comes as some teachers were expected to begin industrial action next week.

Earlier this week it was reported that Irish National Teachers Organisation members had a “lack of trust and confidence in the leadership of the school”.

Members of INTO previously voted for industrial action “up to and including strike action”.

News of the investigation has been welcomed by ‘Concerned Parents of de La Salle’ Facebook group who said: “The Concerned Parents Committee have worked tirelessly over many, many weeks now calling for this investigation. We have spent many hours compiling a dossier and can proudly says our efforts have paid off. We believe that the investigation will answer all our questions, clarify any confusion and will get to the core of what has been going on in our school.”

In a statement Mr O’Dowd said as part of the investigation, pupils, parents, staff and their representatives, and all those involved with the governance of the school will have an opportunity to express their views.

“Following a recent meeting with the Concerned Parents of De La Salle Group, further information being provided to me earlier this week, and other important issues that have come to light in recent days from official sources, I have decided to take forward an investigation regarding the current situation at the school,” he said.

“My priority remains the education of these young people, in particular those due to sit examinations soon. Work continues to be undertaken by the relevant authorities and Associate Principal Imelda Jordan to address the immediate concerns within the school and this investigation will not impede that important work.

“However, it is important to independently review all the circumstances that gave rise to this serious situation in the school and to come up with recommendations that will ensure the schools success going forward.”

He added: “The Department will finalise the arrangements for appointing who will independently undertake the investigation as soon as possible. The outcome of the investigation and the associated recommendations will be reported to the Department by early Summer.”