Vacancy advert to replace sacked St Albert headmaster angers college teachers

Educators are livid after St Albert rector Fr Aaron Zahra publishes vacancy calls to replace sacked head • Zahra objects to disparaging remarks, MUT accuses him of threatening staff

The Malta Union of Teachers rallied in protest at what it claims is the unjust sacking of Mario Mallia from headmaster at St Albert the Great college in Valletta
The Malta Union of Teachers rallied in protest at what it claims is the unjust sacking of Mario Mallia from headmaster at St Albert the Great college in Valletta

Fr Aaron Zahra’s decision to issue a vacancy call to replace sacked school head Mario Mallia has angered educators at St Albert the Great College in Valletta.

The rector sacked Mallia last month, on grounds of insubordination. The sacking came as a shock to college educators, parents and students, leading to an outpouring of condemnation.

On Wednesday, Zahra published two vacancies on his Facebook wall for head of early and primary school and head of the middle and secondary school. Both posts are on a full-time basis with an indefinite contract.

The move was ill-received by educators and at least one staff member went as far as accusing Zahra of putting salt in the wound after removing Mallia.

The comment that included disparaging remarks towards the college rector did not go down well and Zahra communicated with the Malta Union of Teachers, asking it to instruct its member to pull down the remark.

In a statement, the MUT accused Zahra of being intolerant to dissent and resorting to threats in the face of opposition.

The MUT has come to Mallia’s defence, claiming the sacking was unjust and the matter is now in front of the industrial tribunal.

Efforts by Archbishop Charles Scicluna to mediate have proved futile since the school is run by the Dominican Order that does not fall under his jurisdiction.

READ ALSO: Archbishop meets St Albert College educators over Mario Mallia dismissal

Mallia was a popular headmaster, who fostered a strong sense of inclusion. He has said the reason for his removal was because a college board set up by Zahra opposed certain school policies, such as a new subject that fostered appreciation towards diversity and the creation of an educators’ cooperative to help former students enter the job market.

In its statement on Wednesday, the MUT published the correspondence it received from Zahra in which he threatened to report the educator’s comment to the police unless it was removed. The disparaging remark has since been deleted.

The MUT said the reaction of educators to the publication of vacancies for two college headmasters was understandable. The union recalled that the rector had also sent legal letters warning of consequences to college staff who participated in a protest of solidarity organised by the MUT when Mallia was sacked.

The MUT also published its reply to Zahra. “The MUT is taking note of your communication, but we can assure you that the union and our members will not be intimidated by your actions. Your leadership at the college is being characterized by axing of initiatives and individuals, and whenever this is not deemed possible, you are resorting to threats through legal letters and communications like the subjoined. You do not accept any dissent whatsoever and you are expecting everyone to bow at your wishes,” the MUT said.

The union said it will continue supporting its members at the college and reiterated its mistrust in Zahra’s rectorship and “the pseudo board which is supposedly backing your actions”.

READ ALSO: Former headmaster Mario Mallia interviewed