High school pupils on strike over drunk teacher

Pupils at a school in southern Norway have gone on strike in protest against a teacher who allegedly turned up drunk in the classroom, and their school’s failure to take the problem seriously.

Around half the students at Rjukan high school stayed at home on the first school day of the new year, local newspaper Telemarksavisa reports.

In a letter to the principal, student council leader Sandra Yeomans explained that the one-day strike stemmed from a recent incident in which a teacher had appeared in the classroom drunk and “in no condition to teach”.

She later refers to “situations where this has happened,” suggesting the incident was not a one-off.

“The students’ frustration has mounted over the last six months. Our attempts to discuss the pupils’ situation with the school leadership have been ignored,” she wrote.

Pupils are hoping the strike will lead to greater openness and a less authoritarian approach from school leaders.

“We understand that personnel issues are not part of the pupils’ brief, but we feel we have a right to know what is happening with our school.”

Although the pupils have been angry for some time, principal Olav Tov Røysland denied that the problems derived from alcohol abuse.

“I’m going to try now to set up a meeting with the student council so that we can discuss this, because it’s my view that there’s no substance to these allegations,” he told Telemarksavisa.

This is not the first time staff at Rjukan high school have come under fire from students. Two teachers faced disciplinary action after a school trip to Portugal in 2007. The week-long break was described by pupils as nightmarish, as the teachers charged with watching over them spent much of the time either drunk or inexplicably absent.

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