A special-needs secondary teacher has been struck off after breaching professional boundaries with a pupil, including being present while the pupil drank alcohol, allowing the boy to stay overnight with him and making references to masturbation.
The teacher, Rodrigo Cintra, is described in a verdict from a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) fitness-to-teach panel as “dismissive” of concerns and “arrogant”.
Several allegations against Mr Cintra were found to have been proved, including that he was present when “Pupil A” consumed alcohol in July 2016 and again, in a different location shortly after the pupil had left the school, in August 2016. This was despite a common feature of a condition which Pupil A had – the name of the condition is redacted – being “impulsiveness and not being able to regulate ones behaviour”, with “a pre-disposition of not being able to deal with alcohol”.
Another proven allegation was that Mr Cintra “did take Pupil A on nights out…during which Pupil A consumed alcohol and allowed him to stay in the teacher's accommodation”.
Mr Cintra was also found to have engaged “in inappropriate conversations with Pupil A by way of text-messaging and WhatsApp voice chat”, and in particular:
*Expressed “inappropriate opinions and [made] comments about other colleagues; specifically mentioning other staff members he does not get on with or he does not like working with”;
*Shared “confidential information with Pupil A, specifically about a relationship regarding another co-worker and the teacher [cautioned] Pupil A not to tell anyone”;
*“Text conversations referring to Pupil A masturbating”.
The panel also found that, between 2014 and August 2016, Mr Cintra “did not maintain appropriate professional boundaries with Pupil A, of a teacher and pupil and a teacher and former pupil”.
Pupil A started at the unnamed school – referred to only as “School A” – in around March 2014 and left in July 2016. GTCS papers record that the pupil’s mother described him as “a vulnerable young man for many reasons. He did not have cause and effect thinking. He struggled with long-term and short term memory deficits. There were elements of autistic behaviours. He lacked the ability to understand other people’s emotions. He was a risk-taker and was easily influenced and could be exploited”.
His mother also told the panel that other schools had turned him away due to his complex needs and behaviour. He was 16 when he went to School A and, the GTCS documents state, she said that “his functioning level was generally that of an individual who was 10 or 11 years old but in some areas as young as eight or nine years old. However, his reading age had always been above his chronological age”.
A house coordinator at the school who gave evidence “now considered that perhaps there was an element of grooming going on by the teacher in relation to Pupil A”, the GTCS papers record.
Mr Cintra, in his evidence, “strongly denied that his actions were predatory behaviour or amounted to ‘grooming’ Pupil A. He had never tried nor wanted to have an inappropriate relationship with Pupil A. He denied that he committed any abuse of trust concerning Pupil A”.
In its written verdict, the GTCS panel stated that Mr Cintra was “dismissive of parental concerns and dismissive of the concerns of colleagues. He had been arrogant and had failed to follow advice, guidance and instruction. [He] had failed to demonstrate an ability to work with a team, work collegiately with colleagues and had failed to engage in professional dialogue with colleagues.”
The panel also stated: “Although it was the first occasion that [Mr Cintra] had behaved in this manner in relation to a pupil or former pupil, the conduct regarding Pupil A was sustained and planned. [He] had made limited admissions in relation to the allegations. His own explanation demonstrated limited insight into the nature and consequences of his conduct.”
It added: “[Mr Cintra] had not demonstrated any remorse. His acceptance of responsibility was, in the panel’s view, superficial and not rooted in any understanding of the reasons why his conduct fell below the standards expected of a registered teacher”.
The panel was also “not satisfied that there would be no repetition of the conduct contained within the allegations”.
The panel had heard that Mr Cintra first joined the school as a one-year volunteer from August 2005 until July 2006, working with young adults aged between 18 and 25. He returned to the school in August 2007, and in September 2013 was employed as a special educational needs teacher who ran the metal workshop full time. He held a BA in social pedagogy from the University of Aberdeen.