Scottish teachers to sue parents who abuse them online

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SCOTS teachers warned today they will sue parents who subject them to “sustained attacks” on social media.

The Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland has contacted every council in the country to flag up potential defamation cases.

The unprecedented legal action is being planned after a number of senior school staff complained of being victimised by irate parents on social sites Facebook and Twitter.

The organisation’s general secretary Greg Dempster said parents had a right to raise concerns but must do it through official channels.

He said: “We took this step because local authorities seemed to have very clear policies about what teachers shouldn’t do online but very little of about what would be done to tackle the targeting of headteachers or other school staff through social media.

“We are concerned about the increase in the use of technology to make inappropriate and sustained attacks against education professionals.”

The organisation, which represents around 1500 of the country’s school leaders, described online harassment as being an increasing problem over the last two years.

Although unable to comment on specific cases due to current ongoing hearings, Mr Dempster said comments being flagged up showed parents attacking senior staff online both personally and professionally.

Mr Dempster added: “Social media has moved forward very quickly in recent years and a very small minority of parents seem to believe that it is not subject to defamation laws.

“Two years ago there was a trickle of incidents like this but it is significantly increasing. We’re not saying there’s an avalanche of cases being reported but the issue is important to raise so that parents and others are aware their words carry strength and any grievances should be brought up through the complaints procedures that are in place.”

If that is unsuccessful then they should take it up with their immediate superiors and if that still proves unsatisfactory then the council should be informed.

Mr Dempster concluded: “Where any of our members are subjected to such an attack we work closely with the relevant local authority to press for a quick resolution to the problem.”

The Educational Institute for Scotland has claimed up to 60 teachers a year are the focus of “derogatory material” posted online by their own pupils.