A primary school teacher has been struck off after touching a colleague's breast during a school trip while pupils were nearby, among several other acts of misconduct.
Kenneth McDonald was found, during a school trip on or around 14 June 2017, to have: placed his head on or near a colleague’s breasts; kissed a colleague’s breast and/or kissed her near to her breast; and touched a colleague’s breast with his hand. These actions took place without the colleague’s consent and while pupils were in a dorm next door.
The colleague in question told a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) fitness-to-teach panel that she had not consented or given any indication of consent for this behaviour. The panel noted that Mr McDonald’s actions on that day had been “a significant life event for her” that had affected her health.
In addition, the panel found that the next day Mr McDonald made a remark to the same colleague which included a sexual reference, while in the presence of pupils.
These events came almost a year and a half after an incident on or around 11 January 2016: Mr McDonald admitted to the GTCS panel that he had given a colleague – in the words of the panel – “a plastic or rubber penis as a ‘Secret Santa’ gift, which…was opened by the colleague within the school setting”.
Of the later events on 14 June 2017, the teacher told the panel that Mr McDonald – who had “frequently made sexualised comments directed at her”, which she had understood as “just banter” that “he did not mean anything by” – made a comment about “motorboating” her breasts, while they were watching a film on an iPad.
Teacher 'pulled down colleague's top'
An account of her evidence included in the GTCS panel’s account of the case, published online, reads: “The next thing she knew, [Mr McDonald] had leaned over and pulled down her top and started kissing her left breast. She told the panel that she just froze. She eventually asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ and reminded him that he was a married man with children. She asked him to get a grip of himself. It was not until she said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ that he stopped.”
The panel wrote that “she could not believe that someone she trusted so much would do that, particularly in close proximity to children they were charged with caring for and who she could not be sure were asleep”.
Mr McDonald apologised to her, but when he told her the next day that "I’ve got something chunky for you" – while referring to sharing chocolate – “she doubted the sincerity of his apology”. The panel noted that there was “a sexual innuendo which she considered wholly inappropriate in light of his conduct the night before. It was said in the presence of year six pupils, some of whom may have been able to understand the suggestive nature of the comment.”
The panel noted that the teacher had been “particularly upset” by the comment, given [Mr McDonald’s] “conduct the night before, and that it demonstrated to her that [his] apology and expression of remorse were not sincere”.
The GTCS panel said it “accepted evidence in various supporting statements that [Mr McDonald] had a history of making inappropriate comments in the staffroom”.
Another teacher who gave evidence to the panel said that – in the panel’s wording – Mr McDonald “was known to make comments in the staffroom with a sexual undertone and that some staff were not comfortable with his innuendos and sexual references”.
The panel found that Mr McDonald had exhibited conduct that was “fundamentally incompatible with being a registered teacher”.
It also found “a lack of evidence…to demonstrate that [Mr McDonald] had taken appropriate steps to address his behaviour”.