Funchal court rules in favour of teacher suspended for 6 months

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 05-01-2020 14:00:00 · 0 Comments

The Funchal Tax and Administrative Court (TFAF) ruled in favour of a teacher known for transforming a problematic school in Madeira into one of the best in the country who was suspended without pay for six months by the school management.

In an isolated area of the island of Madeira, the Basic School Curral das Freiras (municipality of Câmara de Lobos) went from one of the worst in the country to the school with the best academic results in Portuguese in 2015.

The history of Curral das Freiras is confused with that of Joaquim José Sousa, director of the school since it was inaugurated in 2009 until the day it was extinguished in 2018.

The geography teacher told Lusa today that he was the target of a "profound professional and personal humiliation" that is only now beginning to be corrected with the decision of the Court of Funchal.

Joaquim José Sousa was referring to the disciplinary process initiated by the Regional Education Secretariat that culminated in March with his suspension for six months without pay.

Now, the TFAF has ruled in favour of the former president of the executive council of the Basic School of Curral das Freiras and annulled the decision of the regional secretary of education, according to the judicial decision to which Lusa had access.

The court also ruled that the teacher is entitled to compensation of thirty thousand euros.

But behind it lies a story that Joaquim José Sousa admits to having difficulty in forgetting, recalling that he was never heard during the entire disciplinary process and that he always felt that there was a lack of context in the appreciation of the facts.

"A disciplinary process was opened against me for having put too many teachers in IT and economics", he recalled, recalling that "this issue didn't even form part of the final accusation".

The causes of the suspension boil down to 12 situations that include acts such as sending teachers' schedules by e-mail or having teachers give extra lessons. Measures that Joaquim says were unanimously approved and that guarantee they were not illegal.

The school also decided to reduce the hours in certain subjects in order to be able to give those same hours as support to the students who needed them most.

Also, students just arrived from Venezuela were entitled to extra classes in Portuguese, by decision of the school board.

Opening the doors earlier, at 07:00, "so that the children wouldn't be in the wind, in the rain or outdoors" when the parents had to go to work was another of the problems pointed out in the process, the teacher recalled.

Joaquim José Sousa also recalled that in a decade he accumulated three praises and four assessments of excellence.

With two small children, the teacher was suspended from office in March of this year, without pay for six months and without the right to appeal.

"It was very difficult," he said, admitting that he lived through "times of poverty" when he had to sell "almost everything" because he was not even entitled to unemployment benefits.

It was with the financial help of his family that he was able to appeal the decision to the TFAF. "To defend myself and prove my innocence I had to pay with the money I didn't have," he lamented.

He managed to lodge an appeal and the decision of the Regional Secretary of Education was annulled.


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