ICT head caught taking laptop

Oliver Luft

A head of department who was caught removing a school laptop on closed-circuit television has been banned from teaching for a year.

Albert Fogarty, formerly head of ICT and business studies at St Edmund's college in Ware, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by England's General Teaching Council.

In Birmingham last week its disciplinary committee was shown footage from covert cameras inside the private boarding school. Mr Fogarty was seen removing a new boxed laptop from the office of the IT network manager on January 31, 2004.

Mr Fogarty was filmed entering the office on a Saturday morning and taking the laptop, which was concealed under a desk. Stuart Winfield, IT network manager, told the hearing that on entering his office he discovered the alarm had been triggered.

He looked at the CCTV film and saw Mr Fogarty taking the computer. He then informed the headteacher and the bursar.

Giving evidence to the hearing, Mr Winfield said a staff meeting was convened to make an announcement about the missing computer, and give Mr Fogarty an opportunity to come forward. But he did not.

Mr Winfield said: "Mr Fogarty had several opportunities to disclose the whereabouts of the laptop."

He also told the hearing that three years earlier he had conducted an audit of equipment and discovered that Mr Fogarty had ordered approximately 20 laptops which were not being used in his department. When confronted by senior management, he returned all the equipment to the school and was given a written warning.

In February 2004, after failing to admit taking the laptop, Mr Fogarty was called to a meeting with then headteacher Dr Mark Lochlin. Chris Long, then deputy head, who was at the meeting, told the hearing: "When asked by the head about the missing laptop, he said he knew nothing about it."

A second meeting was called the following day and Mr Fogarty was informed about the CCTV footage and suspended from his post. His union representative later telephoned the school to say that the computer was in Mr Fogarty's desk in the business studies suite.

Internal disciplinary procedures were not initiated as Mr Fogarty resigned from the 700-pupil school in February 2004.

Mr Fogarty, who neither attended nor was represented at the hearing, had been employed as a teacher at the independent co-ed boarding school, which charges up to pound;6,175 a term, since 1994.

In a written submission he admitted taking the laptop but denied he had dishonestly appropriated it.

The GTC committee said that Mr Fogarty had failed to explain his behaviour and had not expressed any remorse or regret.

He was suspended from the teaching register for a year. If he wishes to teach again he must provide evidence from a consultant psychiatrist of his fitness to return to the profession.

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Oliver Luft

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