Teacher accused of sexual activity sacked

Teacher Bernadette Smith was dismissed for 'gross misconduct'. Picture: Facebook
Teacher Bernadette Smith was dismissed for 'gross misconduct'. Picture: Facebook
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A MARRIED teacher accused of engaging in sexual activity with one of her teenage pupils has been sacked from her post.

Bernadette Smith, 35, had originally quit her job as a history and English teacher at Bannockburn High School last month, after allegations arose that she had had a relationship with a 16-year-old male student.

But after meeting with union officials from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), she retracted the decision to leave, prompting an inquiry into her alleged conduct by senior council officials.

It emerged yesterday that, following the inquiry, she has been dismissed for “gross misconduct”.

The mother of three was held by police on 22 September over the claims, part of which allege she and the pupil engaged in activity in a public park.

She appeared in court from custody on Monday, 23 September, and pled not guilty to a single charge that, while in a position of trust as the boy’s teacher, she engaged in sexual activity with the pupil, kissed him on the mouth and neck and lay beside him on a bed while partially clothed.

The offence was alleged to have been committed between 13 and 20 September at an address in Cowie, near Stirling, and at Callander Park, Falkirk.

Last week, the council’s head of education, David Leng, chaired a disciplinary inquiry into the matter.

A council spokesman said: “They heard allegations against a teacher at Bannockburn High who had recently been suspended and the outcome was that the employee should be dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct.”

The spokesman said the General Teaching Council will be informed of the decision.

Allegations against the teacher surfaced in the days before her court appearance. Bannockburn High was made aware of the claims on 19 September, after the school was contacted by the teenager’s parents.

Smith was asked to attend a meeting at the school the next day, where she was informed of her immediate suspension pending an inquiry. She verbally resigned but later refused to confirm her resignation in writing.

Police were informed of the allegations and tracked the teacher down to an address in Stirling. It is not believed to be the address she shared with husband Brian and their children.

On the day of the court appearance, the school released a statement to parents assuring them that classes were operating as normal and support was being offered to staff and pupils.

However, parents of pupils criticised education bosses after hearing of the scandal in the media before they were told by the school.

Headteacher Tom Black sent text messages and letters to parents on Monday afternoon, after a weekend of newspaper coverage and Smith’s appearance in court.