By Christine Lavelle
A TEACHER who repeatedly offered to pay for a taxi to get a female pupil to his house has been temporarily suspended from seeking another teaching post.
Richard Cantwell, 36, from Airdrie, is accused of communicating with a pupil via a social networking site whilst employed to teach history and modern studies at All Saints RC Secondary School in Glasgow.
On March 22, 2009, Mr Cantwell allegedly participated in an online conversation with a female pupil, using Messenger Plus – more commonly known as MSN.
This was despite having being told by head teacher Gerry Lyon no to make any contact with students through social networking sites just two days before.
A hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland heard details of the chat in which the girl told him it was “wrong”.
During the conversation, Mr Cantwell tried to persuade the girl to get a taxi to his home, and sent his phone number, telling her to call him.
The girl replied: “I shouldn’t even be talking to you on this, never mind on the phone.”
Mr Cantwell – under the username ‘Riccant’ – said: “So come here then, I have money, do you know how to order a taxi?”
And to this the girl responded: “Of course I do. No, because that’s even worse, it is even more wrong for a pupil to go to a teacher’s house.”
He then went on to tell the girl: “You’re stunning”, “Want to come over?” and “You’re beautiful I think”.
The online chat lasted for over an hour, between 2 and 4pm and Mr Cantwell continued to try and persuade the girl to come to his house
Andrew Gibb, appearing on behalf of Mr Cantwell, said: “My client is suffering from depression, anxiety, and an alcohol related problem, and he believes that if this issue is publicised it could hinder his recovery.
“He has promised not to apply for another teaching post, permanent or supply, between now and his full hearing in December.
“I think you can trust this as he has not worked since March 2009.”
“Safety is our primary target”
Appearing on behalf of the GTC, solicitor Niall McLean said the only way the council could warn potential employers of Mr Cantwell’s apparent misdemeanours would be to temporarily suspend him, until his full hearing which is due to take place in December this year.
He said: “The council is here to make sure the public know they can trust the teaching profession.
“Temporary suspension is the only way that can be assured.”
Carole Ford, convener of the GTC hearing, said: “We have decided to suspend Mr Cantwell until we hear evidence at his full hearing.
“Although the respondent said he will not seek any teaching post until then, the only way we can monitor this is to suspend him temporarily.
“We have heard no evidence yet, but we are not convinced that Mr Cantwell poses no threat to young people, and their safety is our primary target.
“However, this does not in any way mean he has been struck off the register.
“Evidence will be presented at a full hearing of the GTC in December.”
Mr Cantwell is also facing a charge of acting disorderly in front of two pupils, outside the Europa bar in George Square, Glasgow on 7 March 2009.
Mr Gibb said at the hearing scheduled for December 14 he will use medical evidence to show that his client is suffering from a number of mental health issues.