Diss head suspension to remain secret

Parents and pupils are unlikely ever to know the reason behind a Norfolk school head's suspension after council officials blocked a freedom of information act (FoI) request.

Diss High head Jan Hunt was put on gardening leave for two months last year as a result of an internal disciplinary investigation.

She returned in December after the conclusion of the inquiry into 'management issues' at the school.

However, the full circumstances behind Dr Hunt's absence look set to stay confidential after Norfolk County Council rejected an FoI request by the Mercury.

Governors at the school have reiterated their support for the head after the resolution of the inquiry.

The Mercury wrote to the county council – amid concerns among parents about the lack of information – asking to know the reason for Dr Hunt's suspension in October and the findings of the authority's investigation.

However, the council rejected the request on the grounds that disclosure would contravene data protection principles and would represent a breach of confidence.

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'The information contains personal data of third parties who have not given their consent to release of such information. The individuals are not under an expectation that this information would be further released into the public domain,' said senior freedom of information officer Melanie Waite.

She added that the release of the disciplinary report did not meet the conditions of legitimate public interest and publication would particularly cause unwarranted harm to the interests of the individual.

Tony Billett, chairman of governors at Diss High School said that Dr Hunt, who joined the 1,100-pupil high school in 2008, had been doing a 'fantastic' job since her return.

'She continues to have the full support of the governing body and we share her vision to further raise levels of achievement across the school.

'Everyone at the school is determined to look forward and support the school's continued success,' he said.

A statement from Dr Hunt in December said: 'I am pleased to be back at school and look forward to continuing to drive improvement in the achievements of our students. I would like to thank staff, students and parents for their ongoing support.'