Head of school for vulnerable pupils struck off after spending cash for kids on alcohol and food

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THE head of a school for vunerable children has been struck off after spending money meant for the youngsters on food and alcohol.

Karen Walker also used two school cars for personal use and commuting, meaning colleagues ran up mileage on their own vehicles.

Miss Walker, former head of the Inclusion Support Base (ISB) in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, admitted to employing her own daughter and personal gardener for jobs paid for by the council.

And Miss Walker hired her son Christopher for a graphics job, costing the council more than £10,000.

The retired headteacher has been removed from the teaching register after the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) “found that the Teacher’s conduct between 2006 and 2013 fell significantly short of the standards expected of a registered teacher”.

Miss Walker, now a director of charity Right Track Scotland, introduced a system of vouchers to reward good attendance by pupils.

But she admitted using the vouchers “to buy alcohol and food for occasions when you should have purchased those goods yourself”.

Miss Walker appeared before a hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) in October last year.

The GTCS has now published its decision on the case, deciding that “the seriousness of the allegations found proved” and “a finding of unfitness to teach was necessary and proportionate in the public interest”.

The GTCS wrote: “The allegations demonstrated a pattern of behaviour on part of the teacher during her time at the ISB.

“There was a lack of insight on her part in relation to some of the conduct contained within the allegations, for example, the misuse of the voucher scheme, her personal use of the ISB vehicles, the general mismanagement of systems at the ISB and her failure to seek assistance when she felt it was necessary.

“The Panel also found a lack of reflection and remorse on the part of the Teacher in relation to her answers to questioning during the hearing.”

In an bid to cover up the expenditure, Miss Walker was found guilty of telling staff to “create the impression” that pupils had attended meals when they had not.

Lynn McCrum, an internal auditor for North Lanarkshire Council, gave evidence stating how the council were tipped off by an anonymous letter.

She said: “There should have been records kept. It’s basic money management. We are of the opinion that council funds should not be used for gifts and hospitality.”

Miss Walker’s representative at the hearing, Jamie Foulis, asked if Ms McCrum had found anything showing that his client had used the vouchers for her own personal use, to which McCrum responded: “No, but there was no receipts so that’s open to interpretation.”

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