Jailed head can keep job

13th July 2007 at 01:00
School governors make 'unusual decision' because of his previously unblemished record

A JAILED primary headteacher could return to school wearing a prisoner's ankle tag after a Welsh primary decided to keep his post open while he serves a 15 month sentence for dangerous driving.

Paul Davies, 51, was involved in a high speed car crash that left businessman Kelvin Palmer, 49, in a wheelchair. But his union has defended the decision to allow him back to his job at Cwmdare primary in Cynon Valley.

Anne Hovey, from the Welsh National Association of Headteachers, said the "rather unusual and strange decision" had been made because of Davies's previously unblemished record. At a disciplinary hearing held by Cymdare primary last week, Davies had been full of remorse and promised to make amends for his actions, she said.

He will address children and parents about the issue on his return and will not be paid while behind bars, it was decided.

"The governing body chose to give this man a second chance effectively," said Ms Hovey. "If it had not been the unblemished record and impeccable character of this man, who has the support of the entire community, this might not have been the direction taken."

Hundreds of signatures supporting Davies had been collected before he was sentenced at Newport crown court.

"As far as I know there has not been one parent or member of staff who has objected to Mr Davies," Ms Hovey added.

She said the head had told her he plans to use his time in prison helping other prisoners study.

Mr Palmer, the father-of-two who was left disabled after the crash, is outraged by the decision over Davies's job. "It's alarming that a headteacher could be in school with a tag that must be a first," he said. He plans to make a complaint to the General Teaching Council for Wales, which has the power to hold a disciplinary hearing overruling the decision.

Davies was convicted of dangerous driving in May. The court heard that he had lost control of his car while driving in wet and windy conditions at speeds of up to 120mph. He collided head on with a Ford Fiesta driven by Mr Palmer.

If Davies is given the option of early release it would be on condition that he is allowed back into the community with an ankle tag.

Alun Maddox, head of governors at Cwmdare primary, said: "The panel decided to allow Davies to keep his post and he is expected to return after completing his sentence in relation to the recent court judgment. Further details of when he will return will be announced as soon as they are available."

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