Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Were Mrs Maguire's superiors criminally negligent?

I'm a little confused. The recent conviction of a 16-year-old boy for the brutal killing of Ann Maguire, his Spanish teacher, elicits more questions than it answers. The judge clearly divested any responsibility from his parents and, let's be clear, the school in general, meaning the Senior Leadership Team; but, as I've said, notwithstanding the court's judgement which was, one would hope, delivered after torturous and thorough deliberation, some important questions remain unanswered, at least when considering what I've read, seen and heard.

The teenager had previously been banned from a school trip by Mrs Maguire, for instance, but went anyway. Why? Were Mrs Maguire's wishes overridden by her superiors? Two months before he had posted a vile, abusive, message about her on Facebook. If they knew, and I do emphasise the 'if', what did the school leadership decide to do about it? And finally, the court heard that he had walked out of a disciplinary meeting after making clear that he despised the woman who was later to become his victim. Again, I am forced to ask what the school leadership did to resolve the situation, and, indeed, whether the incident was resolved before he re-entered Mrs Maguire's classroom.

These are important questions that need to be answered. Perhaps the school leadership did everything in its power to support and protect Mrs Maguire. But, having said that, and in my humble opinion, if the leadership team knew about the Facebook message, they should have permanently excluded the pupil immediately in an effort to protect a colleague being subjected to threats, intimidation and abuse. If they knew and did nothing, however, by implication, they are at least partially responsible for her death. Are Mrs Maguire's superiors guilty of criminal negligence?

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