Teacher in drink and drug disgrace

A DRUNKEN Halifax teacher who pinned down a female colleague and was later arrested for possessing drugs has escaped a teaching ban.

Richard Clarke, head of PE at St Catherine’s High School, Holmfield, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct at a hearing of the General Teaching Council.

The hearing was told he failed to disclose his arrest to his head teacher, which he had a professional obligation to do.

However, the committee only reprimanded Mr Clarke, who was dismissed by the school when it became aware of the incidents.

He has since been working as a supply teacher in Huddersfield.

His night of shame in February 2009 started after he got drunk at a staff celebration at Bertie’s, Elland.

Committee chairwoman Barbara Hibbert said he consumed a large quantify of alcohol and behaved in an inappropriate way to newly qualified PE teacher Clare Buckley.

“By placing her on the table, pinning her to that table with his arm across her chest and causing directly or indirectly her dress to ride up,” she said.

Mr Clarke also admitted throwing himself on top of another colleague, Bernie Jefferson, when she fell to the floor.

However, Mrs Hibbert said the committee found than an allegation he then simulated a sex act was not proved, and also rejected another allegation he had put his hand up another colleague’s skirt.

“We find that your actions in behaving in an inappropriate manner and failing to notify your head teacher you had been arrested for possession of a class A drug amount to unacceptable professional conduct.”

She said as an experienced teacher he had brought the profession into disrepute.

“It was reprehensible of you to suggest your behaviour needed only to be professional in the context of the classroom. You caused distress amongst your colleagues.“

Head teacher Patricia Sheard said following the incidents she received a call from police informing her of Mr Clarke’s arrest.

“He had not spoken to me about it. I spoke to him and in course of my investigation found there had been other things happening at Berties,” she said.

“It was a staff function and the drug offence later in the evening came to light first.”

Staff also complained about Mr Clarke’s behaviour and he was dismissed.

He had worked at the school for around six years.

Mrs Sheard said teachers’ had a duty to act responsibly.

“As teachers we are in a position where we set examples and it’s important we maintain standards.”

Mr Clarke’s reprimand will remain on the Teaching Register for two years and he has a right of appeal to the High Court within 28 days.