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UPE Dismisses Allegations Made by MUT, Reaffirms its Actions at St. Theresa College 

The Union of Professional Educators (UPE) has responded to allegations made by the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) concerning the situation at St. Theresa College. The UPE firmly stands by its actions and defends its position against the claims made by the MUT.

UPE stresses that it has been actively involved in the situation at St. Theresa College, advocating for the rights and well-being of its members. Contrary to the allegations made by the MUT, the UPE has conducted itself with responsibility and integrity throughout the process, engaging in productive discussions with relevant stakeholders.

The UPE clarifies that it has received multiple complaints from educators at St. Theresa College, citing instances of mistreatment, workplace bullying, and inappropriate conduct by the Head of the School. These concerns were brought to the attention of the UPE by its members, who sought support in addressing the issues they were facing.

Additionally, some members of the UPE, who held different perspectives and supported the school management, also approached the Union through written correspondence and meetings, expressing their concerns about the situation.

At this stage, the UPE reiterates the importance of conducting an internal investigation and avoiding being influenced by populist actions, which may lead to disregarding factual evidence of mistreatment. The Union stands firm in its commitment to transparency and accountability, stating that its actions are based on truth and supported by evidence.

The fact that one or more persons had been bullied, doesn’t mean that it was public knowledge to all of the school staff. This is because bullying can take place in many different forms, and most of the alleged cases reported transpire to be mainly one-on-one.  

The UPE strongly denies the MUT’s accusation that it publicly escalated the matter to prejudice the fact-finding board investigation. The UPE asserts that its main objective has been to address the genuine grievances and concerns of educators at the school, which had been left unresolved due to the Ministry of Education’s inaction and delays over the summer.

Furthermore, the UPE believes that the involvement of a fact-finding board is necessary to ensure an impartial and fair investigation into the allegations at St. Theresa College. The Union emphasises that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to thoroughly examine the situation and take appropriate measures based on the findings.

The UPE expresses disappointment with the comments made by the MUT in its article, particularly regarding the alleged spreading of “lies”. Unlike the MUT, the UPE has always sought to find a peaceful resolution, even in the face of the MUT’s directive for certain members of management to not communicate with the concerned teacher. The MUT did not attempt to find a peaceful solution and instead made the situation more difficult to resolve. It is also important to note that the MUT got involved in the situation at the end of the scholastic year, thus creating more issues than solutions while the UPE has been working on the school dynamics for the last two years, in which it has requested dialogue several times to resolve the problem. 

Regarding the claims of support from parents and educators towards the Head of School and school management, the UPE acknowledges that there may be differing opinions within the school community. However, the Union’s role is to advocate for the rights and well-being of its members, ensuring a safe, respectful, and conducive working environment. The Union would like to make it clear that educators in general are entitled to sick leave as per employment law. Therefore there was no breach of law by the teacher in question, and therefore the teacher was in his/her legal right to do so. The mentioned sick days had been also vetted by the ministry’s doctor. The UPE hopes that the general public and the MUT do not doubt the professional opinion of medical professionals.  

The UPE was also aware of the petition mentioned in the MUT’s article, which was given significant emphasis for unknown reasons. The UPE knew that a week before the scheduled interviews for the investigation in mid-August, several parents had been seen entering the school to allegedly sign the petition. Questions arise as to whether the parents were called in by the Head of School, who advocated for the petition. Did the MUT suggest that the petition would help remove the teacher? The MUT is also unaware that the petition was signed by parents whose children were NOT even in the teacher’s class.

The UPE also questions the following; If at any point in time the teacher in question, broke any regulations, or acted unprofessional, how come didn’t the Head of School or the College Principle, never issue a warning letter or take disciplinary actions as clearly within their remit as public officials? 

It is important to note that the MUT’s misinformation campaign is based on inaccurate information to mislead the general public, such as the ITS myth. The lecturers mentioned by the MUT are still employed at the ITS and have not been terminated. The constitutional case is ongoing, and the UPE will refrain from commenting further to avoid prejudice.

In conclusion, the UPE reiterates its unwavering commitment to supporting its members at St. Theresa College and other educational institutions. The Union maintains that its actions have been driven by a genuine concern for the well-being of the educators it represents, supported by factual evidence, and a desire to cultivate a positive and inclusive educational environment.

The UPE stands firmly by its previous statement and will continue to advocate for the rights and well-being of its members while respecting the due process of any investigation. The Union urges all parties involved to adhere to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fairness in addressing the situation at St. Theresa College.

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