A FORMER teacher who was controversially convicted of assaulting two pupils was today (fri) dragged in front of a disciplinary hearing – two years after he quit the classroom.
Mike Barile, whose career was destroyed by the assault claims, has previously described the action by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) as a “witch-hunt”.
The 54-year-old maths teacher from Dundee was sacked from his job at the city’s Lawside Academy after his conviction.
But Appeal Court judges reduced his sentence to an absolute discharge because of the “disgraceful behaviour” of the pupils involved and the teacher’s “relatively insignificant” reaction. They also questioned whether the prosecution was in the public interest.
Despite turning his back on teaching, the GTCS is now pressing ahead with disciplinary action against Mr Barile.
The former teacher faces ten charges of aggressive and threatening behaviour towards pupils and teachers at Lawside Academy and Madras College, St Andrews.
Three former pupils from Lawside gave evidence today.
One of the pupils claims that Mr Barile grabbed him from behind by the hair forcing his chair on to its back legs.
The 18-year-old said he was around 15 at the time of the incident which took place in a religious education class.
The pupil, who suffers from diabetes, said he was not feeling well and asked Mr Barile if he could leave class to get water so he could take paracetamol.
He said that when he returned he put his head down on the desk.
He added: “Later on in class I just felt a jerk.” He explained that at the time he had quite long hair.
“I got pulled back onto the back of the chair and slammed forward again and eventually my hair got let go and turned round and it was Mr Barile,” he said.
He said after the incident Mr Barile “was being quite smug”.
He added: “He was smiling like there was nothing really I could do about it.”
But Andrew Gibb, who was representing Mr Barile, asked the witness if he was wearing a hoodie at the time.
He said: “He [Mr Barile] pulled your head up with your hood up to check you were okay. He may have pulled some of your hair.”
But the former pupil said that he was not wearing a hoodie that day.
Another pupil, now 18, explained an incident which took place in the library. He said: “Everybody in class was on the computers but I was next to [another pupil] and he put YouTube on and then I did.”
The pupil explained that Mr Barile told him to get off the computer but not his classmate.
He said: “He told me to get off the computer. I went to a table. He told me to do maths work and I said I wasn’t doing it because everybody else got to go on the computer.”
He said that he was swearing at Mr Barile and told him to “f*** off”.
He said: “He grabbed us by the arm and he never took us off the floor, never threw us but pushed us if you know what I mean.”
But Mr Gibb said to the former pupil “you refused to leave and he took you by the arm and asked you to leave”.
Another witness recalled an incident which took place in a History class.
Mr Barile was the substitute teacher as the normal teacher was off sick.
The 18-year-old said that he had been disruptive in class and called Mr Barile a “walking penis”.
He said after the bell went and all the class had left that Mr Barile “grabbed me and pushed me against the wall”.
He said that the was a shelf behind him and Mr Barile pushed him into it so that his back was “arched”.
He added: “He had his forearm in my neck/chin area. It might have even been in the chest.
“It was sore on my back because of the shelf.”
He also explained that Mr Barile “poked” his chest and “he was right in my face shouting”.
He said: “I don’t agree with him pushing me into the wall as a teaching method.”
Mr Gibb said to the pupil: “I have to suggest to you that Mr Barile tried to prevent you from leaving the classroom”.
The case began in January 2008 when a 14-year-old pupil told Mr Barile: “Your breath stinks.”
The same pupil later grabbed a note from Mr Barile in which he had detailed the bad behaviour. Mr Barile grabbed the boy by his shirt, pushed him and threatened to put him “through the blackboard”.
The same boy had been suspended from school on an earlier occasion for assaulting Mr Barile.
In May the same year, another 14-year-old boy swore at Mr Barile and told him he was a “walking penis”.
The boy was told to stay behind after class. When he tried to walk out, Mr Barile pinned him against a wall by putting an arm across his chest.
At a previous GTCS hearing, Mr Barile said: “I’d call it a witch-hunt. When I got the absolute discharge I thought it was the end of this mess.
“I wanted to draw a line under things and get on with my life — but now this has happened.
“I’ve not been employed as a teacher for the last two years and don’t plan on taking up any teaching position.
“I could understand if I was applying for a teaching post but I’ve not applied for anything and I’m not interested in doing so, so I don’t know why they’re doing this.”
Since giving up teaching, Mr Barile has done voluntary work with United For All, a football charity.