Concern among teacher unions over handling of Enoch Burke’s dismissal

Jan 24, 2023 by

by Carl O’Brien, Irish Times:

The handling of the Enoch Burke case has caused some concern with teacher unions over aspects of how the case was managed and the grounds on which he was dismissed.

Mr Burke, who was employed as a German and history teacher at Wilson’s Hospital School, in Co Westmeath, was formally dismissed from his post on Friday afternoon.

It follows a disciplinary hearing which took place on Thursday at the Mullingar Park Hotel in Co Westmeath, which was disrupted by protests from the Burke family.

[…]  Sources indicated there is unease over the manner and speed at which he was dismissed, while one senior union source expressed concern at whether a precedent could be set in the handling of his case. “We’re not involved in this case in any way, but we are concerned about the wider issue of teachers’ rights and we haven’t seen details about the grounds on which the dismissal took place,” they said.

Another union source said: “You would wonder at the speed at which the dismissal took place. It took place the day after the disciplinary hearing, which is very unusual. If this goes to an appeal, you can expect that every aspect of the process will be examined in minute detail.”

[…] Mr Burke was suspended from the school last August and placed on paid administrative leave pending a disciplinary process, initiated on foot of a report prepared last by the then principal of the school.

It concerned Mr Burke’s emailed objection to a direction last May to teachers to address a transitioning student by their chosen name and using the pronouns “they/them” and his publicly voiced opposition to that direction at a school event last June. He alleged that such a direction was a breach of his religious beliefs.

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