Judge tears up suspension, Svpo teacher Bert Mul is allowed back
Geography teacher Bert Mul will be allowed to return to the Frisian School for Personal Education from next Monday to end the school year with his students. The District Court of the Northern Netherlands does not give a damn about the 'unlawful' suspension by the school board, in summary proceedings brought by the AOb.
Svpo must admit the teacher again from Monday 5 July until the summer holidays. Should his employer nevertheless keep Mul out of the door, Svpo must pay a penalty of one thousand euros per day.
A suspension is a drastic and damaging measure, according to the verdict, which an employer may not simply apply. According to the judge, there is no evidence that Mul made the decision on the basis of which he was suspended. According to the judge, Svpo also did not comply with the procedural rules to give the teacher the opportunity to defend himself in a decent way against the measure. The suspension of the popular teacher may actually contribute to unrest at school, according to the judge.
'It is true that there is a disturbed employment relationship (…), but the relationship with the students and other teachers seems to have remained as good as ever. In view of the statements of support that the teacher has received from both teachers and students, rejection of the claim may actually increase the unrest. It is also important to consider that leaving the suspension in place, which may be announced in wide circles, is damaging and defamatory', the judge ruled.
"Given the statements of support that the teacher has received from both teachers and students, rejection of the claim may actually increase the unrest"
“The verdict speaks volumes”, responds AOblawyer Joost Aarts, who assisted Mul. “I am pleased that the suspension has been lifted and that this teacher will have the opportunity to properly complete the school year with his students. It was too much of his honor to let it go. For him, the interests of the students always came first.”
The judge rejected a written rectification, according to the court the verdict is clear enough.
Mul – suspended after an interview with Omroep Friesland two weeks ago – wants to be able to leave the school with his head held high. The teacher is legally assisted by the AOb, who is in summary proceedings demanded that the suspension would be lifted. Svpo founder and board chairman Misha van Denderen did not want to hear anything about this during the session last Monday. According to him, returning to school would increase the unrest and a replacement has been found.
It was the second time in exactly a week that Van Denderen appeared before a court. Served in Amsterdam last week a case against the Education Inspectorate, brought by Svpo to keep a number of critical reports out of the public eye. Three of the eight Svpo schools – in Amsterdam, Hoorn and Utrecht – were assessed as very weak by the inspectorate. This is the second time in a row for the school in Utrecht.
Last Monday, the subdistrict court in Leeuwarden considered the suspension of Mul, a geography teacher at the Svpo school Tjalling Koopmans College in Hurdegaryp. Two weeks ago he participated in a report which Omroep Friesland made about dissatisfaction at the Frisian school. The next day, on June 13, the teacher was suspended due to critical statements attributed to him by the school principal.
In addition to Mul – the only teacher who was mentioned by name – the broadcaster spoke to a number of teachers who wished to remain anonymous. "One of the teachers told me that it is a dictatorial, rogue organization and the students are the hostages," he wrote. news reporter Auke Zeldenrust op. Furthermore, according to the reporter, teachers point to a lack of leadership and communication.
"Another teacher made the anonymous statement that the school is a dictatorial mala fide organization with the students as hostages"
It is not clear who made those statements. “This teacher is being blamed for statements that he did not make”, responded AObdistrict manager Marja de Bree. On the afternoon of the session reported the broadcaster did the same: 'Another teacher made the anonymous statement that the school is a dictatorial mala fide organization with the students as hostages.'
According to the subdistrict court, Mul was wrongly suspended on the basis of these rulings. 'For the time being, however, it has not been shown that Mul has expressed himself in such terms'.
During the hearing, the Svpo leadership took a different approach and lawyer Joan du Bois argued that the teacher did elaborate on it. It would be a deliberate action to damage the school.
But, the judge ruled in the verdict, that claim is 'not substantiated with facts'. And if there had already been an action by a group of teachers, 'without further substantiation, which is lacking, it is impossible to see' why Mul is being charged.
In addition, the Svpo lawyer came up with other matters that would burden the teacher: an 'illegal' drink at school where distance rules were violated. According to students, who Friesland broadcaster and the Leeuwarder Courant spoke out of court on Monday, there was absolutely nothing to worry about. “No teacher has given students alcohol.”
'These statements are not supported by facts and their accuracy has been contradicted by the teacher'
The accusation provoked emotional reactions on Monday. Mul: “It went completely different. The fact that things like this are now being dragged in is precisely why colleagues do not think it safe to speak out by name.”
The judge also rejects this allegation and considers it irrelevant. 'These statements are not substantiated with facts and their correctness has been contradicted by the teacher', according to the verdict.
The Education magazine previously wrote about the foggy money flows within the Svpo network (2019) and described how teachers get stuck on the rigid education model (2020). Also read: Svpo schools in Amsterdam, Hoorn and Utrecht 'very weak'