Ex-head barred for sexual intimidation of staff

13th October 2006 at 01:00
A former head who forced two female teachers to kiss and took bets on whether she could masturbate a teaching assistant at a staff party has been struck off the teaching register for at least three years.

Wendy Fisher, who was head at Moorbrook special school in Preston, also kissed a female teacher in front of staff and asked colleagues to touch her breasts.

England's General Teaching Council heard that Mrs Fisher had bullied and intimidated staff, made inappropriate sexual comments, was drunk in charge of pupils and misused school funds.

The head, who was not present at the hearing, was cleared of a further charge of failing to organise and conduct residential trips appropriately and of providing cigarettes and alcohol to pupils while on a school trip to Portugal.

Mrs Fisher was employed as deputy head and head at the school between September 2000 and 2004 when the incidents were alleged to have taken place. She was suspended in January 2004 and resigned that December.

Victoria Butler, a teaching assistant, made a complaint to Lancashire council in November 2003 regarding Mrs Fisher's conduct. She said: "Many staff found Mrs Fisher's management style to be over the top and many staff felt victimisation by her."

Mrs Butler recalled one incident in which Mrs Fisher made a male member of staff cry and also said the head harassed her into kissing a female teacher in a pub while she kissed another female teacher.

She said: "I found the request highly embarrassing and intimidating. I felt being asked and asked and asked and asked to kiss a member of my school team amounted to bullying."

She told the committee that she ended up going under her coat with the other teacher and pretending to kiss to get Mrs Butler off their backs.

The hearing was told that Mrs Fisher had asked the women to kiss after a conversation about a lesbian story line in a soap opera.

A male PE instructor said Mrs Fisher made inappropriate sexual advances towards him during a residential trip to Cumbria in May 2001 when the staff had been drinking in their chalet one evening.

"Mrs Fisher was drunk, she started talking about things of a very personal nature," he said. "Mrs Fisher made very clear her intentions to make a pass at me and this took the form of suggestive comments.

"I felt intimidated and that she should not be saying this to me - she was in my personal space and I did not like it."

Staff said Mrs Fisher would ask them to touch her inappropriately and admire her breasts and that she took bets on whether she would be able to 'masturbate', a male teaching assistant, under the table at his leaving party.

In her written statement, Mrs Fisher said: "This allegation is absolute nonsense, we had all sorts of banter in the staffroom, it is ridiculous to suggest I would say anything of this nature."

John Rimmer, chair of the committee, said: "Mrs Fisher was the lead practitioner and the role model in the school. Intimidation and bullying are never acceptable in the work place."

Mrs Fisher has left the teaching profession but expressed her desire to have the option to return in a letter to the committee.

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