Teacher who texted vulnerable pupil struck off

Patna Primary School in East Ayrshire. Picture: Google

Patna Primary School in East Ayrshire. Picture: Google

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A primary teacher has been struck off after repeatedly sending text messages to a vulnerable pupil and inviting her to meet up with him outside of school.

Bilal al-Bukhaari, who worked at Patna Primary in East Ayrshire, texted the girl asking her to go running, inviting her to a football match, and offering to take her to Manchester.

At a full hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, he was found guilty of three charges which involved sending messages to the the teenager.

The panel accepted that an image of a woman in a bra that al-Bukhaari forwarded to the pupil had been sent in error, but noted that the mistake only occured because he intended to send her another picture depicting a person with dwarfism, which he regarded as “humourous.”

The pupil, who attended a supported learning centre, was carrying out a placement at the primary school as she was interested in becoming a teacher. al-Bukhaari sent the messages between 5 February and 27 February 2014.

A witness at the hearing, who had taught the teenager, said she was 17 but operated at the level of a 12 year old. The hearing heard that dthe pupil had told her class teacher that she did not want to go back to the placement after receiving the messages.

The head teacher at Patna Primary School was called and spoke to al-Bukhaari. Asked how the placement had gone, he described how he knew where she lived, that she had a brother and that she was an “amazing young lady.” The head teacher said this had made her feel uncomfortable.

In a statement outlining his defence, al-Bukhaari, formerly known as Gerry Corr, said he had discussed going running but lacked motivation. He said his text was meant as a “humorous comment” and not to be taken seriously. He denied offering to take the pupil to a football match and said the comment about taking her to Manchester was taken “out of context.”

In their judgement, the panel said al-Bukhaari had “failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries” and “respect his unique position of trust as a teacher.”

The panel ruled to remove al-Bukhaari from the teaching register and he will be unable to re-register for two years. He has the right to appeal.

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