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Teacher gets parent apology over comment on Facebook

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A TEACHER in Donaghmore has secured a public apology from a pupil's parent in a libel action over "unfair and derogatory" comments posted about her on Facebook.
Roisin Corr, head of music at St Joseph's Grammar School in Donaghmore, took the case against Caroline Coulter, a parent of a former pupil.
It centred on comments Ms Coulter, of Brackaville Road, Coalisland, had posted on the school's Facebook page in May last year.
As part of the settlement in the libel action, an apology from the defendant was read out in car by her barrister, and that no damages were sought in the case.
In the apology Ms Coulter admitted she made "unfair and derogatory comments" on Facebook about the teacher.
“I take this opportunity to formally withdraw my comments and apologise to Mrs Corr for making those comments," she said.
“In particular, I apologise for any hurt and upset I may have caused and shall desist from any such conduct in future."
Mrs Corr, who has been teaching for 22 years, has been off work on stress grounds since last year following the online comments.
She said she was "relieved" the matter has been resolved, and is looking forward to returning to teaching.
“This has been a very difficult year for myself and my family following unfair and untrue comments posted about me by a parent on social media in both their own Facebook page and the school's Facebook page," she said in a statement.
“I am relieved that this matter has finally been resolved and that my good name and character have been restored and that the parent in question has apologised for and retracted their comments."
The 45-year-old from Moy also urged schools and Stormont's education department to develop a "robust social media policy to safeguard teachers".
“In the current age of social media a recurrence of similar events for other teachers is inevitable," she said.
“The impact that this ordeal has had on myself as a professional, but also on my family should prompt an urgent implementation of such a policy."
The Department of Education said it is "unacceptable for anyone to be the subject of offensive comments on social media".
A spokesperson said it provides advice to schools on online safety, but "organisations should have their own policies in place which they can draw upon".
Schools receive advice from the Department in the form of circulars, which lay out guiding principles for keeping pupils and wider school community safe online.
Some of the recommendations include developing safeguarding procedures; regularly auditing staff training needs; issuing online safety advice; and operating a risk register to highlight where data security might be breached.

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