£46k legal bill for Cottingham High after suspending head Elizabeth Logan
A FLAGSHIP academy ran up bills of almost £50,000 in legal and other fees after suspending its head teacher.
Cottingham High School has refused to say if Elizabeth Logan was given a payout when she resigned in August, six months after her suspension.
But the academy has confirmed Mrs Logan, who was on a pay scale of £86,365 to £100,028, was paid up to August 31.
Governors are still refusing to say why they suspended Mrs Logan, who resigned for "personal and professional reasons".
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In a Freedom of Information (FoI) response to the Mail, the academy has confirmed it spent £30,450 in legal fees.
It was also billed for £16,010 by a human resources management specialist who conducted an independent investigation.
Governors are now being urged to be more transparent over its use of public money.
Ian Richardson, East Riding secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "It's unfortunate that teachers, students and parents are still in the dark as to the real reasons why Mrs Logan resigned and as to whether there was a financial settlement.
"When public money has been spent, there's an obligation on all people to be as open as possible."
Mr Richardson said schools that break away from local authority control to become academies should still be accountable for how they spend public money.
He said: "The normal method of accountability, until very recently, was through the elected local authority.
"That has now been completely taken away with the academy structure, there are no clear lines of accountability anymore.
"We need another tier of authority."
Mr Richardson said the suspension of the head teacher had been "hellish" for all concerned.
He said: "When a situation occurs like this, it is very regrettable.
"It's unfortunate for the head teacher, for the staff, the pupils and the parents. Everyone went through a hellish situation, not least Mrs Logan."
Parents have also called for more transparency.
One parent, who did not want to be named, said: "It's a shambles. Why don't they own up? What have they got to hide?
"The Mail has had to put in an FoI request to find out they paid out £46,000 for professional advice, while they were paying the head to do nothing for six months.
"We don't expect them to go into the fine detail of what the issue was with Mrs Logan but, surely, if it was still a local authority school, there would be a lot more transparency and we would know whether or not they had made a payout to the head teacher."
In its FoI response, the academy would "neither confirm nor deny that any payment has been agreed or paid to Mrs Logan".
The academy said this was due to the "sensitive nature of the information which, if disclosed, would have an impact on Mrs Logan, her family and her professional standing", "her reasonable expectation of privacy" and "their right to deal with employees fairly in a non-biased way".
Vice-chairman of governors Robert Sherratt defended the £46,460 spent on fees, insisting it was "legitimate expenditure".
He said: "School governors are volunteers tasked with securing the best possible quality of education for the young people of the community they serve within the resources available.
"They are not appointed as either education or legal professionals but rely on their wisdom and common sense, and the advice and guidance of the professionals in the school and beyond, to help them to ensure that the school fulfils its responsibilities.
"On this occasion, given the complexities of the situation they faced, the governors rightly recognised the need for outside specialist support in the form of legal advice and an independent investigator.
"Although they would not have wished to use the school's resources in this way, the governors considered that they had no other option."
Mr Richardson said he hopes the academy is now "on an even keel", with acting principal Will Jennings at the helm until a successor to Mrs Logan is appointed.
He said: "NUT members in Cottingham are considerably happier than they were.
"They are happy to be getting back to something like an even keel. It was utter chaos."
Mrs Logan could not be contacted for comment.
New chairman of governors Professor John Greenman acknowledges it has been a difficult year at the academy.
He said: "It was a challenging year, we all acknowledge that.
"What I would really like to stress is the governors are volunteers on this, we have done our best to do the best we can, bringing our professional skills to bear.
"The governors' priorities are to maintain the stability of the school and ensure that our young people have the best opportunity to achieve their potential.
"We have started the process of appointing a new principal, taking advantage of the local authority's offer of advice."
Until a new principal is in post, the governors say Will Jennings will continue acting principal.
Prof Greenman, who is a parent governor, has succeeded Jim Brigham, who stepped down after his year as chairman.