Deaf school probe into ‘inappropriate behaviour’

The board of Donaldson's Deaf School ordered an investigation. Picture: Dan Phillips
The board of Donaldson's Deaf School ordered an investigation. Picture: Dan Phillips
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THE chief executive and head teacher of Scotland’s national deaf school have been suspended pending an inquiry into the way a historic allegation of inappropriate behaviour by a member of staff was dealt with.

The board of Donaldson’s Deaf School, Linlithgow, ordered an investigation after an alleged “inappropriate physical act” by an unnamed member of staff four years ago.

It is understood the incident did not happen at Donaldson’s and involved a young adult who was not connected with the school.

But staff were aware of it and took no action.

When the case was raised at a meeting last term, the school decided further action was required and the member of staff was suspended and police were contacted.

Now the board has taken the unusual step of suspending chief executive Janice MacNeill and head teacher Mary O’Brien to establish whether correct procedures were followed and why appropriate action was not taken sooner.

Mary Mulligan, convener of the board of governors, said: “Staff were aware of the 2009 incident at the time, but no official action was taken then.

“Following the decision to contact the police about the incident, the board asked whether the correct child protection procedures had been followed.

“We are now conducting an inquiry to establish whether those procedures were followed and to ensure the correct procedures are in place going forward.”

Mrs Mulligan stressed there had been no further allegations against the member of staff, who was a support worker, and no pupils were involved.

A school spokeswoman added: “The board of Donaldson’s Trust was recently made aware of certain allegations that we had a duty of care to take seriously.

“In line with due process, and following external advice, we contacted the authorities and a police investigation is under way.

“The individual, who has not been in post for some weeks due to the school summer break, has been suspended pending the outcome of those investigations. It is not possible for us to discuss this matter in any more detail.

“The suspension of two senior members of staff is to allow an internal review only and is not connected to the police investigation.

“The safety and wellbeing of our pupils will always remain a priority for the school.”

A recent inspection of the school graded it as “good” for the quality of care and support, the environment, staff and management and leadership.

The school, which is grant-maintained, was founded in Edinburgh in 1851 as Donaldson’s Hospital, but moved to a purpose-built campus in Linlithgow in 2008.