Exclusive: Council's £28,000 bill to sack 'bullying' teacher
Victim Britt Pilton, a 29-year-old teacher at High Greave Junior School, Rotherham, suffered from bulimia and anxiety and confided in her colleagues that she believed she was being bullied in the run-up to her death.
Miss Pilton, due to get married last summer, collapsed and died at the school in March 2009. An inquest later ruled that her eating disorder and stress had been made worse by the issues she was experiencing at work.
The teacher accused of the bullying was suspended the day after Miss Pilton's death but was not officially dismissed until November 2009.
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post under the Freedom of Information Act show that this process cost 28,315.
Rotherham Council said none of the money involved in the case was spent on severance pay for the dismissed teacher but was rather taken up by the
cost of supply teacher cover for the school during the eight months, as well as staff time and "other costs of the investigation".
An inquest into Miss Pilton's death was told that on the day she died some of her teaching notes had vanished from a school photocopier.
The incident had left Miss Pilton is a panic and a colleague told the inquest that she believed they had been removed by the colleague who was bullying her.
The 29-year-old was later discovered collapsed on the floor of the school toilets and died despite desperate attempts to revive her.
Former colleagues also told the inquest that the now sacked teacher had previously bullied other former colleagues to the point at which they chose to resign and that Miss Pilton
had confided in them that she feared she was the next in
line. However, her love of
teaching and her impending wedding made her continue in her job.
Coroner Nicola Munday recorded a narrative verdict into Miss Pilton's death and said she had been "dealing with a number of additional pressures in her working environment which led to considerable levels of anxiety over a period of months".
Ian Stevenson, regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers in the Yorkshire and Midlands region, told the Yorkshire Post that investigations into accusations of bullying could take a great deal of time, depending on the nature of what is being alleged.
"When you are dealing with bullying complaints you are looking at generally very complex cases," he said. "It can take months or it can take years."
A spokesman for Rotherham Council said: "The member of staff involved was suspended as soon as the allegations were made and as we take such allegations very seriously we wanted to investigate them fully.
"Many interviews with staff took place over a period of time and clearly due to the nature of what had happened this needed to be handled sensitively.
"There was a slightly longer than usual period for the necessary disciplinary hearing to be held caused by the non-availability of people involved for various reasons and due to school holidays which could not be avoided.
"We feel the issue was dealt with as quickly as it could be under the circumstances and while ensuring a thorough and fair investigation was carried out."