THE UNION representative of jailed primary headteacher Paul Davies has defended the decision to keep his job open even if it means he could technically return wearing a prisoner's ankle tag.
Mr Davies, 51, was sentenced to 15 months in prison last month after a high speed car crash left another man in a wheelchair. During the case, at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, judge Stephen Hopkins referred to Mr Davies driving like a "boy racer" before crashing.
But Anne Hovey, from the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said that support for Mr Davies from staff, parents and pupils at Cwmdare primary school in Cynon Valley had led governors to make what would be perceived as a "strange and unusual decision".
The regional officer said that during the school's disciplinary hearing last week, which Mr Davies was allowed to attend, he was full of remorse and he promised to make amends for "embarrassment caused" if he was allowed to return.
It was agreed that he would address the children and parents over his conviction and imprisonment in a way agreed by the governing body on his return. It was also decided he would not be paid during his time behind bars.
"The governing body decided to give this man a second chance," said Ms Hovey. "If it had not been for 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 Mr Davies had been collected before he was sentenced. "No one from the school will make a complaint against him returning," said Ms Hovey.
She said the head had told her he now plans to use his time in prison helping other prisoners to study.
But Kelvin Palmer, the father-of-two who was left disabled after the crash, is outraged by the decision. "It's alarming that a head could be in school with a tag that must be a first," he said.
He now plans to make a complaint to the General Teaching Council for Wales, which is able to hold its own disciplinary hearing and overrule the school's decision. By the time TES Cymru went to press, a GTCW spokesperson said no complaints had been filed.
A jury found Mr Davies guilty of dangerous driving in May. The court heard how he had been driving his Subaru Impreza at speeds of up to 120mph before the smash in May 2006 on the A465 Heads of the Valleys Road. He lost control in wet and windy weather as he tried to break and collided head on with a Ford Fiesta driven by businessman Mr Palmer, 49.
Mr Davies has always denied driving at high speeds.
School stands by its 'impeccable' leader, imprisoned for dangerous driving after crash