A teacher suspended for alleged misuse of school equipment has been sacked because of his sickness record.
Technology teacher Mark Walker was suspended from Sunnydale Community College, in Shildon, County Durham, last March pending an internal inquiry. Last week, the school’s board of governors terminated Mr Walker’s contract on the basis of his sickness record. He has until Friday to lodge an appeal against the decision.
Supporters of the former RAF weapons technician, from Spennymoor, County Durham, claim the action against him was politically motivated. They said he was accused of accessing the British National Party’s (BNP) website during school time and described the proceedings as a witch hunt.
The school has never commented on any specific allegations.
Yesterday, headteacher Sue Byrne said: “I can confirm that his contract has been terminated but he has still got a period in which he can appeal. I cannot comment further on an individual case.”
Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, a trade union closely associated with the BNP, said: “No one should be victimised because of their political views. To sack him for ill health is despicable, since his health only deteriorated because of the pressures of the disciplinary and sickness process.”
A spokesperson for the local education authority, Durham County Council, said: “The governing body at Sunnydale Community College followed its sickness absence policies correctly and made a determination that a member of staff’s employment should cease because of their continuing health problems.”
Mr Harrington confirmed that the union plans to appeal against Mr Walker’s dismissal.
Mark Walker’s brother, Adam, is due to appear before England’s General Teaching Council in Birmingham next month and faces being struck off the teaching register. He left his job at Houghton Kepier Sports College, Houghton-le-Spring, Wearside, last year after using a school computer to join an online discussion forum about the BNP.
Both men stood unsuccessfully for the BNP in Durham County elections.
The Northern Echo