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Indian head teacher sues UK school after 'bloody Indian', 'Paki lover' slurs

February 22, 2011 - London

An Indian head teacher has sued her primary school in Reading, Berkshire, after parents who had "deeply held racist attitudes" had made her life miserable.

Sudhana Singh, 44, says pupils at Moorlands Community Primary School was told by the children that their parents "hated blacks".

One parent even labelled her a "Paki lover," she claims, and the school had done nothing to investigate the case.

However, she says a parental petition calling for her sacking was handed to the local education authority and Reading Borough Council then gave the go-ahead for an independent inquiry.

Singh was then placed on compulsory "garden leave" and "frogmarched" from the school while the probe continued, she says.

She is suing the school's governing body and the council for race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

In papers submitted to Reading Employment Tribunal, Singh says that she had a highly successful 20-year teaching career. She started her career in South Africa, and has written on education issues in the Times Educational Supplement. She had been deputy head at Foxborough Primary School in Slough, Berkshire before joining Moorlands in September 2009.

Singh alleges that there was "hostility and aggression" right from the beginning and the governors themselves "deliberately endorsed a targeted campaign of discrimination, bullying and harassment' against her."

In March last year, Mrs Singh made a formal complaint to governors and the council over "acute racism" among parents.

"The claimant expressed that she considered that she was the victim of parents' 'deeply entrenched racist views'," the Daily Mail quoted the papers as saying.

Parents were so rude and aggressive at times over issues such as the school's healthy eating policy that she had to call the police, she claims.

A petition was then signed by 169 parents calling for a vote on the head's future was presented to governors.

It read, "We appreciate that the transition of a new head teacher into a school can be a difficult time but we feel that enough time has been given for this process and we feel highly disappointed and let down with the lack of apparent care and concern for our children in her school."

But other parents, whose children were among the 432 pupils, supported Singh and claimed she had been the victim of a smear campaign.

Parent Kes Willliams told the local media, "My daughter loves it at Moorlands. I have nothing but praise for the school which has done such a lot for my daughter.

"I think the accusations aimed at Mrs Singh are inaccurate and petitions were signed after false information was given to parents."

A parent then allegedly confronted Williams in the school car park, shouting "P*** lover, if you don't shut up we will shut you up."

Williams also revealed how the mother behind the petition, Heidi Craske, had complained, "That bloody Indian woman should not be in charge of our children."

Instead of dismissing the petition's credibility, the council announced an independent inquiry.

The papers state, "The claimant was simply horrified that such a course of action was considered appropriate as it was clearly playing to the demands of the playground mafia."

Singh said the report was a "sham" and says that she was given no chance to respond to allegations made by unknown accusers.

In July, Singh says she was ordered to take gardening leave, or face being suspended.

Singh's solicitor Shazia Khan, of law firm Bindmans, said, "My client has a fundamental right to feel safe and secure at work. She has brought to the attention of her employers very serious allegations of racial harassment, for which she believes she is being victimised.

"It is important that public authorities set a positive example and are not seen to discriminate to ensure public confidence in them."

The school's governing body and Reading Borough Council have denied Singh's allegation, adding that they had no reason to suspect the petition from parents was not authentic.

A Reading Borough Council spokesman said, "In view of ongoing legal proceedings, we cannot make any comment at this time."


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