Muslims on the school’s board of governors “wanted more formal Islamic worship in the school and closer links with the local mosque.” When they didn’t get what they wanted, they accused the head teacher of “racism” and “Islamophobia.” But in a refreshing bit of anti-dhimmitude in the UK, this time intimidation and smears did not win the day.
A head teacher today won more than Â£400,000 damages for being forced out of her school after being branded a racist.
Erica Connor, 57, who was head of New Monument School, Woking, where 80 per cent of pupils are Muslim, claimed she had been the victim of a campaign of harassment by some of the school governors who accused her of Islamophobia.
Deputy Judge John Leighton Williams QC at the High Court said education officers had been more concerned about complaints to the Commission for Racial Equality than the health of their head teacher.
He said Surrey County Council was negligent in not stepping in to help Ms Connor before she was forced to retire through ill health in December 2006 following a breakdown.
He ordered the council to pay the damages for her psychiatric injury, to include loss of income and pension, medical expenses and the loss of the career she loved.
Ms Connor, a divorced mother of one, said her troubles started in 2003 when four Muslim governors were appointed to the governing body.
They included a convert called Paul Martin, and another man, Mumtaz Saleem.
The four “effectively railroaded” governors’ meetings, repeatedly raising issues of religious education, content of assemblies and prayers.
They wanted more formal Islamic worship in the school and closer links with the local mosque.
Mr Martin complained repeatedly about the ethos and Ms Connor’s management. An investigation acquitted the school of racism or religious bias.
But after that an anonymous petition was circulated among parents, saying that those who signed it “no longer have confidence in Erica Connor to educate our children in a way that respects and values our faith, culture and heritage”.
Another document accused Ms Connor of “racism and Islamophobia”. A second investigation criticised the head and her perceptions of multiculturalism.
In September 2005, she went on sick leave for a depressive illness.
Outside court, Ms Connor said: “I finally feel vindicated in terms of the accusations of racism and Islamophobia against myself. I believe in equal opportunity. Every child has the right to achieve to their full potential, in an environment that celebrates diversity and respects the beliefs and culture of each individual.”
The post traumatic stress disorder she suffered during her ordeal means she can no longer work again as a teacher….