Male teacher who sent 'inappropriate' letters to pupil, 11, allowed back in class

2nd October 2009 at 01:00
GTC disciplinary panel damns breach of position of `trust and power' with Year 6 girl but permits return

A male primary teacher has been allowed to return to the classroom despite sending a series of "personal" and "inappropriate" letters to an 11-year-old girl.

Ian Bangay told the pupil they had become friends and passed on private information about other teachers and children, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) ruled.

Mr Bangay, who taught at Coppice Valley Primary in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, later wrote to the girl's mother, called her mobile phone and went to her place of work after she complained about his behaviour, a disciplinary panel found.

Mr Bangay at first denied that writing to the girl had been improper, but later admitted it had been wrong to "enter into lengthy and personal correspondence", the ruling said.

A psychiatric report also concluded that his letters were "inappropriate in terms of what Mr Bangay sought from the child in terms of friendship".

The first letter was dated July 24, 2003, when the pupil had just finished her last term at Coppice Valley. She was on the school roll until the end of August, which meant that when Mr Bangay started writing he still had a position of "trust and power", the ruling said. He continued writing to her until October that year.

He wrote to the girl's mother the following March after she met the school's headteacher to discuss her concerns. The head had told Mr Bangay not to contact her.

The teaching council found Mr Bangay guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

"The correspondence fell far short of the standards that the public, parents and the profession can reasonably expect from a registered teacher communicating with a pupil," its ruling said.

"We consider that the letters and the details contained in them raise serious concerns about the professional distance that ought to have been maintained between Mr Bangay and this child."

The committee said it noted that Mr Bangay had raised "issues about his health" when the letters were written. But it ruled that this should not influence its judgment on whether his conduct was acceptable.

His attempts to contact the girl's mother, despite the head's instructions, brought the "reputation and standing of the profession into disrepute", it added.

However, the committee cleared Mr Bangay of unprofessional conduct over a number of allegations he made against his headteacher under a "whistleblower policy".

Mr Bangay made 39 complaints in all, according to a report by North Yorkshire County Council. Two were found to be malicious, and nine mischievous, the report said. Seven of the 39 were substantiated.

The GTC noted Mr Bangay's strong disagreement with part of the report and his assertion that he had lost confidence in the headteacher and chair of governors.

"On balance, we are anxious that a teacher should not be disadvantaged or deterred from using a whistleblower policy when they wish to raise properly motivated and genuine concerns," the GTC said.

Mr Bangay was given a conditional registration for two years, which includes him having to notify any school of the hearing against him and the GTC's decision.

He must also provide a medical report about his fitness to work and have no written or telephone contact with pupils or parents unless sanctioned by a head.

"We do not consider his conduct to be fundamentally incompatible with being a registered teacher, but consider that these conditions will ensure that pupils are adequately protected," the GTC said.

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