The Education Ministry has denied that an email sent to MCAST lecturer Peter Gatt, asking him to report to work at the ministry, amounted to a transfer.

Lawyer Julian Farrugia told a court that a final decision on the lecturer’s future had not yet been taken and that the email was simply a “verification exercise”.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Toni Abela, was hearing an application for an injunction filed by Gatt to stop the transfer. In view of the development, the court turned down his application.

On October 8, Gatt had received an email from Emilie Vassallo, director general at the Directorate for Educational Services, telling him: “You are to report for work at the Ministry for Education head office in Floriana on Monday, October 11”.

His “first task” was to meet her at her office at 8.15am.

Yesterday, the ministry lawyers said the meeting was an exploratory one to plan his future.

In his application, Gatt claimed the email was in conflict with a previous court judgment which, in July, had stopped MCAST from demoting him to a secondary school.

That court noted that the termination and order to transfer him to another school was issued after a series of efforts to stop him from teaching and an order banning him from communicating with his students.

Gatt is the only geologist at MCAST and has been lecturing there since 2014 in engineering geology, limestone studies and building materials.

Last year, Gatt was not given a timetable or students to teach and he was ordered by the college deputy principal not to contact students. 

This matter was investigated by Education Ombudsman Vincent De Gaetano who ruled that MCAST’s decision not to assign him any teaching duties and preventing him from contacting students for such a long period of time, while remaining on MCAST’s books, “was an act which was oppressive and tantamount to degrading treatment”.

Gatt has claimed that pressure to oust him from the college began when he raised concerns about the poor quality of syllabi set by MCAST over the past years.

Lawyer Joseph Sammut appeared for Gatt while lawyers James D’Agostino and Dennis Zammit represented the Education Ministry.

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