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School entitled to dismiss teacher over links to sex offender

A school was entitled to dismiss its headteacher after she failed to disclose her relationship with a man convicted of making indecent images of children.

The Employment Tribunal heard that the man was sentenced to a community order and a sexual offences prevention order forbidding him from having unsupervised access to children under 18.

The headteacher was not cohabiting with him but they had a close relationship.  The school considered that she had put the children’s safety at risk by failing to disclose her association with the man and she was dismissed for gross misconduct.

The head claimed that she had taken advice from various quarters before deciding that she was under no obligation to disclose the information. She maintained that position throughout the disciplinary process and brought proceedings for unfair dismissal.

The employment tribunal found that although there were some deficiencies in the dismissal process, there was a 90% chance that she would have been fairly dismissed if proper procedures had been followed.

It considered that she was 100% at fault and should receive no compensation.

The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision.  It said that as a headteacher with safeguarding responsibilities, she should have realised that her association with that person posed a risk to the children and that she had a duty to inform the school so that protective steps could be taken.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.