Schools have twofold issues in dealing with whistle blowing – the first in relation to staff who are often fearful of placing their careers in jeopardy and the second involving parents and students who are fearful of the child being victimised.
Evidence has shown that the two professions where complaints of discrimination and harassment are prevalent are health and education. Consequently, whistle blowing is an important issue for schools to consider.
Boards should remember that:
“In all the known celebrated corporate collapses, loyal and committed employees tried to alert management to their suspicions and concerns without success.”
As children are placed in the care of Schools for a large part of the day, the Board, Principal and staff have a very significant duty of care. It is important to put in place policies which will permit legitimate complaints to be raised, with those raising these issues being properly protected. Boards must also be fully aware of the mandatory reporting provisions relating to child abuse.
To assist with achieving the objective of good governance, Boards should consider establishing a procedure to afford protection to whistleblowers, to the extent possible under the existing law. Such a procedure would provide students, parents and others with confidentiality and anonymity, to the extent possible, and endeavour to ensure that they are not victimised or subjected to detrimental action.
Therefore, Boards should give consideration to:
establishing a whistleblower protection procedure
ensuring that the procedure is implemented at the highest level
informing the school’s community about the procedure
providing appropriate education and training about the procedure to those involved in managing or investigating disclosures.