Deaf school worker suspended amid police probe

Donaldson's School in Linlithgow is once again at the centre of an inquiry. Picture: Joey Kelly
Donaldson's School in Linlithgow is once again at the centre of an inquiry. Picture: Joey Kelly
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A SENIOR member of staff at Scotland’s national deaf school has been suspended as police look into allegations of misconduct.

Details of the allegations at Donaldson’s School in Linlithgow have not been revealed, but officers are said to be “assessing a number of concerns” at the school before deciding whether to launch a formal investigation.

And an unannounced inspection which took place following the allegations, has led to the Scottish Government giving the school seven days to come up with a plan for improvements.

Inspectors visited the campus on Monday when pupils and parents were told about the latest blow to hit the school.

In January this year, support worker William Docherty, 42, was convicted of indecently assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a birthday party in 2009. Staff were accused of failing to report it for four years.

An investigation into the handling of the incident led to the dismissal of chief executive Janice MacNeill and the suspension of head Mary O’Brien.

And in September, a 17-year-old pupil claimed she was 
living in fear after an alleged sexual assault by a classmate in the toilets.

In a statement following the latest allegations, the recently appointed principal of the school, Laura Battles, said: “I received allegations against a member of staff within the school, who was immediately suspended.

“As a result, an unannounced inspection took place.

“Our first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of pupils and we are working with Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate and others to ensure this.

“It would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment while this process, including Police Scotland’s assessment of the concerns raised, is ongoing.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Ministers have served a Preliminary Notice under Section 66C of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 on Donaldson’s School, Linlithgow, following concerns raised by Education Scotland as part of an on-going inspection.

“Immediate steps have been taken, and will continue to be taken, to ensure the safety and well-being of pupils. A team of inspectors and key partners returned to the school on Monday to continue working with the school to secure improvements.

“This has included meeting with the board of governors, the parents of pupils and liaising with Police Scotland.”

A report by Education Scotland last year raised concerns about the school’s performance.

A follow-up report this summer said good progress was being made, but warned more improvements were needed.