Update on Teaching Council Election Blunder

by admin on 02/03/2012

Election Process to Start Over Again

Two days ago I wrote a Blog Post about the confusion among teachers over the mix-up in the Declaration of Identity Form issued to teachers for the election of teachers to the new Teaching Council. Two very basic typographical errors were contained in this form which should have been easily spotted by anyone proof-reading the form. In the top section of the form, teachers were asked to fill in the “Elector’s Name” instead of “Voter’s Name“; in the bottom section (which the Witness was to complete), the witness was asked to fill in the “Voter’s Signature” instead of the “Witness’s Signature”. Click on the images in the original post to see the errors contained in the form. I commented at the time that the errors had caused confusion among teachers and called into question both the efficiency of the Council and the legitimacy of the election process.

Because of this confusion, I submitted a series of questions (which you can read in the original post) to the Teaching Council seeking clarification on how teachers were to proceed with the election process. I also questioned the legality of the election process asking these questions:

“4. What is the legal standing of people who vote using either the original or the amended version of the Declaration of Identity?

5. Is the legality of the whole election now not in doubt, given the confusion caused by these errors? Has legal opinion been sought?

6. Should the election process now be halted, and new Ballot Papers and Declarations of Identity re-sent to all teachers?”

It seemed obvious to me that the response from the Acting Director of the council and Returning Officer for the election, Mr. Brendan O’ Dea,  was wholly inadequate and reflected poorly on the election process of a professional body: “Voters should cross-out the word ‘Voter’s’ and insert ‘Witness’s’ on the form and ensure the witness signs this box.”

It appears that my instincts have been proved correct. This evening, the Teaching Council have issued a statement indicating that they have now sought legal opinion (which I had asked about last week but got no response to) and that they now have no choice but to set aside the election process already in train and to start the process all over again. The full text of the Teaching Council statement is as follows:

“The process for the election of teachers to the Teaching Council is underway. As part of this election process, on 17 February 2012 ballot materials were sent to all registered teachers eligible to vote in the constituencies where a poll must be held. The Council regrets that an error was contained on the Declaration of Identity form which issued with the ballot papers. Having taken legal advice, the Council decided at its extraordinary meeting on Friday, 2 March 2012, that it had no viable option other than to set aside the original ballot and to re-issue ballot materials to all registered teachers eligible to vote.

The Council is concerned to preserve the integrity of the election process at all stages so as to ensure members can be properly appointed to the next Council. The Council wishes to make it clear that, as required by the Teaching Council Acts, those members of the Council who are also candidates standing for election, withdrew from the Council’s discussion and did not participate in decisions on these matters. The Council apologises sincerely for any inconvenience caused and as a matter of priority, the Council will review the election process when completed.

NEXT STEPS

1. Voters are requested to discard any ballot materials which they may have already received. The Council and the Returning Officer have decided to set aside the original ballot of teachers. Any ballot materials received by the Council in relation to the first ballot will be set aside.

2. Voters will shortly receive a fresh set of ballot materials and the Council urges Voters to complete these and return them to the Returning Officer so as to be received no later than 5pm on Tuesday, 20 March 2012.

3. In order to allow Voters adequate opportunity to submit their votes on time, the Returning Officer has extended the closing date for return of completed ballot papers to 5pm on Tuesday, 20 March 2012. The Returning Officer has also rescheduled the time and date for the counting of the votes to commence at 9am on Thursday, 22 March 2012. Counting of the votes will take place in Maynooth, Co. Kildare.”

This debacle portrays a very poor image of the professional body for teachers. It again calls into question the efficiency of the Teaching Council and begs the question, “How could they have got this so wrong?” I notice that the previous advice to scribble out the errors on the Declaration of Identity Form before returning them to the Returning Officer have been removed from the Teaching Council Website. The link to the Amended Declaration of Identity Form has also been removed from the website. The final question that now needs to be unequivocally answered is: How much will this debacle cost the Teaching Council?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Hayes March 3, 2012 at 9:24 am

Dia Duit Damien,
Well done on your initiative. I think that it reflects badly on the Council and gives them ground to make up in the eyes of teachers,
Stephen.

Conor March 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Speaking as an NQT, it’s great to see that my €90 is being well spent.€90 would have fed me for two whole weeks, maybe more if I decided not to be a big spender and buy butter and milk. Or it could have been a week’s rent.

Really calls the whole purpose of the Teaching Council into question.

Veronica March 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

As I said in my tweet to you, and as Conor said above, it shows our money is being well spent on a 2nd set of papers being sent to everyone. Whereby part of me wonders should I bother voting, I then think the people on the ballot papers didn’t make the error so is it fair to punish them by not voting???? However, it does beg the question, how a very basic error could be made by competent people in a position of authority and who are getting paid to run a council who are representing teachers????

admin March 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Thanks all for your comments. As Brendan O’ Dea, Acting Director and also Returning Officer for the election, said in his correspondance to me: “From a Council perspective there is a clear lesson to be learned with regard to the proof reading of documentation”. Enough said!

Stephen Marken March 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if we would be better off with no Teaching Council.
A blind man with a stick could see that the whole thing needed to be redone.
€90 is too much and we should not be forced to sign up to an organisation that to date has done nothing to further the proffession. All it has done is waste our money and produce documents like CEPP which if we are honest is a joke.
The gravy train needs to be stopped. Reduce the fees and gradually erode away all the red tape and leave us with a no council at all or one that actually is fit for purpose.

Aideen O'Connor March 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Sure we can all make mistakes.. look at how correspondence is spelt above!

Cecila March 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

The Teachers Council is a digrace This will cost 40,000 euros to rectify.The last election had the form correct. Who is ASLEEP in their job????It is about time Quango s like this Council take stock of other peoples money they are wasting.

Daniel horgan March 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm

First of all, well done done to seomraranga.com for highlighting the farcical attempts by the Teaching Council to stage an election. What a pity our well paid teacher union leaders didn’t show the same kind of courage in highlighting this ineptitude. The disturbing feature about this fiasco is that it is teachers of Ireland who will, once again, be footing the bill. It is also worth remembering that from its income of approximately €7 million last year, the Teaching Council had a surplus of €3.2 million. In ordinary language, this means that approximately €45 of your annual €90 registration fee is sitting in a Teaching Council deposit account…..

Conor March 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

“From a Council perspective there is a clear lesson to be learned with regard to the proof reading of documentation”

Sorry, but didn’t we all go to college here? Haven’t we all handed in assignments, and proof-read those? It’s a lessons that is well worth learning, but one that should have been learned many years ago.

Ellen March 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm

If the teaching council has half our subscriptions ‘sitting’ in a deposit account why are we still paying €90 per annum? Should they not decrease this subscription in line with salary decreases ? I know people who are finding it difficult to pay this amount.
The same goes for our INTO subscriptions – all these people are supposed to have our interests at heart !!

Conor March 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Saw this, and how could I not think of the Teaching Council…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OonDPGwAyfQ

admin March 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Nice one Conor!!

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