Dear Governors

As the board of governors of Dulwich College meets to decide whether to reinstate its head, whom they have cleared of sexual harassment allegations, a group of parents offer some advice

Today is the day for a "final decision" to be made about Anthony Verity's future as Master of Dulwich College. We wish you well in your deliberations, for apparently, you say, things are at a "very sensitive stage".

"Sensitive" seems an odd word to use, though, when we learn for the first time that Mr Verity has been cleared of allegations of sexual harassment towards his secretary. Perhaps "optimistic" or "helpful" might have been more appropriate. In the light of such an announcement, might we not assume relief all round? After all, with your lengthy investigation, we can at least have faith in the fairness of your decision. Yet he has not yet been reinstated.

While you ponder the day ahead we ask you to consider several issues. On the face of it, they may seem relevant only to Dulwich College; but under the watchful eye of the Headmasters' Conference, they may have implications elsewhere.

On the first day of term, we learnt through a terse note to parents that the Master had been suspended. By now, you will be aware of the strength of feeling aroused by such a discourteous letter: it was a classic PR blunder of the kind designed to alienate the "client" You cannot have meant to do this, but it was a portent of what was to come.

While many parents felt a collective sigh of relief ("Is that all?") when we became aware of the allegation, we realised that you, our governors, would be charged with conducting a formal, procedural investigation into the same.

Then the "buts" begin. We learn that the matter was first raised formally in mid-June, and later we learn that it began informally before that. Governors, this will not do. A charge that is considered by yourselves to be so serious as to merit suspension after two months of summer holidays requires immediate action.

During that first week of term, we continued to read fascinating comments from your clerk and "senior management sources", who implied an outcome before any investigation had begun. Yet, in the meantime, when a parent contacted the governing body, through your clerk, stating that she had information relevant to the matter, she was told that such proceedings "may not even be necessary". Despite letters sent to confirm the above, she was not contacted by the board again.

The parent, Ms Deborah Roslund, finally gave evidence but only when she had independently contacted solicitors acting on behalf of the Master. In the event, she met with hostility from senior staff also present. Ms Roslund also says she was treated in a "hostile" manner by governors, who treated her statement with scepticism. She concluded that "they had made up their minds already".

Governors, we understand that in you have to act as judge and jury. But we expect you to abide by the principle of "natural justice": in other words, that not only should justice be done, but that justice should be seen to be done.

We have a suggestion: the Governing Bodies Association. You may be aware of its existence because you are members of it. One of its functions is to offer professional advice to lay governors facing contractual and procedural problems. The request for such advice has to be made by the individual board. We assume, of course, that you have made such a request. Haven't you ...?

Finally, we have the joint statement released last weekend by the board and Mr Verity, confirming that he has been cleared of all allegations. Why in that case did you issue a press statement, confirmed by journalists, on Friday 20 October, saying that the matter remained "undecided"? Why did you not release the true account that the allegation was unfounded at that time? Was this being "economical with the truth"?

Is anyone going to come out of this well? Apparently not, with one glaring exception: Anthony Verity. He has acted with extraordinary fortitude throughout. His honour and professional reputation are restored by being cleared of the allegation. His is the kind of moral and professional leadership that stands as a fine example to the boys at Dulwich College and to the rest of us. May his return to his post be quiet and uneventful.

If this is not so, governors beware. It may seem easier to hope he will just go away, the mess buried with him. But if Mr Verity is armlocked into resignation, you risk all. By far the harder decision for you is to reinstate him, but it is the only honourable course open to you.

Deborah Roslund, Sue Cox, M. and M. Davie, Madeline Johnston, Diane Bonnet

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories