Teacher struck off for assaulting pupils

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James McMenemy was found guilty of five of the 15 charges against him

A TEACHER at a troubled residential school has been struck off after being found guilty of assaulting pupils.

During an earlier hearing against James McMenemy, it was alleged that he had lined up pupils against a wall and fired golf balls at them.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) today recommended that the case be referred to the Scottish Government with a view to preventing him having contact with vulnerable children in the future.

The disciplinary panel found that Mr McMenemy had acted inappropriately toward several pupils while working at the Kerelaw School and Secure Unit in North Ayrshire.

The school, which housed vulnerable youngsters, was closed in 2006 following a police probe into incidents of abuse.

The panel found the teacher guilty of five of the 15 charges including dragging a pupil into his office by the throat and of unlawfully restraining pupils.

The 48-year-old also injured a pupil after twisting her hand and arm in an effort to restrain her, leaving her in need of hospital treatment.

Other charges, including the allegation of firing golf balls at youngsters, were thrown out.

Daniel Higgins, who was brought in from Barlinnie to give evidence after being jailed for a driving offence, claimed he had ended up ‘rolling on the floor’ with McMenemy after the teacher attacked him.

But he later admitted he was expelled from the school after being caught with a knife.

Difficult

A previous sitting of the case had heard evidence that on various occasions at the school gym McMenemy made pupils “line up against a wall” and repeatedly struck “golf balls and other objects at them”.

In his closing submission to the panel, agent for the defence Andrew Gibb today (tues) said: “He maintains his innocence.

“Kerelaw was an extremely difficult place to work, it was a very difficult situation.

“He has not taught since 2004 and I don’t think he has any intention of returning to teaching.”

However the case presenter for the GTCS, Robert Burnett, said: “I have to acknowledge that the pupils at Kerelaw were difficult, or they would not have been there. But teachers have an extra duty to act in an appropriate way towards them.

“Mr McMenemy formed part of a group of teachers who decided they would do things their own way.”

He then recommended that Mr McMenemy be removed from the register.

In deciding to remove Mr McMenemy’s name from the teaching register the panel convener Freda Fraser said Mr McMenemy’s conduct fell below the standards required of a registered teacher.

She said: “The Sub-Committee decided to direct the Registrar to remove the Respondent’s name from the Register, and in terms of section 11(10), that the Respondent should be prohibited from applying for restoration to the register for a period of 12 months.

“The reasons for the Sub-Committee’s decision were that the nature of the charges found proved was sufficiently serious to require the Sub-Committee to fulfil its obligations to the public interest and to the maintenance of professional standards and public confidence in the teaching profession.”

In referring the case for consideration to government ministers, she added: “The Sub-Committee decided to refer the Respondent’s name to Scottish Ministers under section 2 of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.

“It noted the submission on behalf of the Respondent that this may cause a degree of inconvenience to the Respondent in relation to his current employment.

“However due consideration was given to the legislation which made it clear that where charges of this nature have been established and young people have been harmed or have been placed at risk of harm, the Sub-Committee found that it had no alternative but to make a referral.”

Kerelaw opened as a residential school in 1970 with a secure unit added in 1983. In 2006 the school was closed after allegations of child abuse and bullying.

Former art teacher Matthew George was jailed for ten years for a series of physical and sexual assaults on children at the school.

In 2007 Glasgow Council reported that there had been up to 400 allegations of physical or sexual abuse.

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