Drunk teacher swore at pupils and deputy head, inquiry hears

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AN APPARENTLY drunk teacher swore at staff and students before driving off in his car, a disciplinary panel was told.

Eric Ralston is alleged to have had glazed eyes as he slurred his words, swore at pupils and called them “pitiful scum”, and told a deputy head to “f*** off”.

The maths teacher, 58, is said to have caused mayhem at Hillhead High in Glasgow’s West End after a lunchtime drink.

One pupil secretly filmed him as he verbally abused and imitated pupils, and then uploaded the footage to YouTube.

But the hearing was also told neither education officials nor teachers contacted the police to tell them of their concern that Mr Ralston might have been unfit to drive away from the school at the end of the day.

Mr Ralston, from Lanark, was sacked from his job by Glasgow City Council following the incident in February 2010, the hearing was told. As well as losing a salary believed to be in excess of £30,000, Mr Ralston’s pension might also be at risk.

He was not present or represented this week, when a disciplinary panel of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) considered whether to strike him off the register.

Mr Ralston, who has not yet made any plea, faces charges of “attending work under the influence of alcohol”, “using inappropriate language” towards pupils, and “shouting at and using inappropriate language” towards a teacher, all on 10 February, 2010.

Thomas Gough, the deputy head, told the hearing in Edinburgh that the teacher’s “speech was slurred” and that “his eyes appeared glazed” when he turned up late for a maths class.

Mr Gough said: “He started to chastise the boys in the class, he raised his voice and his manner was unusual.

“He leaned on the table and missed his hand, which to me showed a lack of co-ordination. I had my suspicions at that point.”

Mr Gough told the hearing he had heard rumours that Mr Ralston had been drinking during his lunch break at a West End restaurant.

The deputy head gave evidence that he later “smelled alcohol on his breath”.

The maths teacher was also missing from an earlier maths class, said Mr Gough.

The deputy head said he asked Mr Ralston to meet him at the end of the school day, but instead saw him heading towards the car park. He told the hearing on Tuesday that he asked Mr Ralston: “Are you fit to drive?”

After asking the question three times, he said Mr Ralston replied: “Make clear your accusation or f*** off.”

“He was loud and aggressive,” said Mr Gough. “I said we would have to speak about this in the morning, and he said, ‘No, we won’t.’ Then I watched him drive away at speed.”

Mr Gough said he and his colleagues contacted Glasgow Council’s department of education for their advice on calling the police.

He said he was told by an official: “Well, it’s really your call. If police do stop him, he might have parked his car and have had a drink.”

Mr Gough admitted: “We didn’t call the police and were left feeling uneasy.”

The hearing was adjourned until March.

Mr Ralston could not be contacted for comment. No-one was available for comment from Glasgow council.