Nancy Reuben Primary in Hendon has apologised to its co-founder and one-time head Aliza Haye for her treatment before her departure 13 months ago.
In a letter to parents and staff of the independent Sephardi school, David Reuben, trustee of its main financial sponsor the Reuben Foundation, offered his appreciation of Mrs Haye’s “dedicated service”.
On December 14 2016, parents were notified that governors were looking into complaints against Mrs Haye, who was then overseeing Jewish studies. Her resignation was announced the following day.
In a turbulent month, the then headteacher and deputy head also said they were leaving.
In his letter, Mr Reuben said the wording of the December 14 communication had been “ill-advised and could have given rise to baseless speculation regarding Aliza’s conduct, which may have impugned her reputation. This situation arose as a result of a miscommunication following a meeting I had held with Aliza the previous day.”
It was important, he wrote, to “put matters right by apologising to Aliza for the stress and embarrassment which she suffered as a result. I have nothing but [the] highest regard, respect and goodwill towards her.”
During the second half of 2016, governors had conducted a review into “matters concerning Aliza Haye”, Mr Reuben explained. The protracted inquiries had created “an environment of uncertainty for Aliza. I confirm that none of the complaints referred to in the email of December 14 2016 related in any way to child abuse or financial issues.”
Although Mrs Haye and the governors had exchanged correspondence, she had not had “the opportunity to sit with a panel to discuss the allegations made against her”.
Mr Reuben greatly regretted “the strain and anxiety that Aliza suffered as a result of the manner in which the review progressed”.
Praising her “vision, leadership, love of the children and nurturing character”, he credited her as an inspiring and innovative headteacher, whose motivation had driven the school forward for many years.
Mrs Haye — who founded the school with her brother Dayan Abraham David 16 years ago —had taught a “love of Torah and middot [good character values]” and ensured children “take pride in their Jewish heritage”, he added.
Michael Ezra, who became chairman of governors last February, said the letter marked “the end of the chapter”.
Over the past 12 months, the school had been transformed and “things have been brought back on a confident footing with the appointment of Anthony Wolfson as headteacher and some new governors and senior teachers joining the leadership team”.
But speaking anonymously, one parent of former pupils remained critical of events around the time of Mrs Haye’s departure, commenting: “I am not sure what has been achieved. An academically high-performing community school of 15 years was torn down in an undemocratic way to be built up with the different vision of a few.”