Cornwall

Foxhole Academy head 'dishonest' over husband's sex act

Sarah and Peter Cooke Image copyright Cornwall Live
Image caption Peter Cooke also had an earlier caution for stealing a bag of women's clothes and trying them on

A head teacher failed to tell employers her husband was being investigated for outraging public decency, a disciplinary panel has heard.

Sarah Cooke was principal of Foxhole Academy in Cornwall, where Peter Cooke worked as a handyman.

He was arrested after being caught by neighbours watching porn and masturbating in his garden.

Mrs Cooke resigned at the time of his arrest and said a "misapprehension" was to blame for any oversight.

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As well as failing to tell her bosses about the police investigation, it is also alleged she failed to carry out proper background checks on both her and her husband.

Women's clothes

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) professional misconduct panel heard that she did not inform her superiors of possible safeguarding issues.

If proper checks were carried out, they would have flagged a caution Mr Cooke received in 2012 for stealing a bag of women's clothes from a leisure centre and later trying them on.

It was alleged there were "very serious failings" over "a significant period of time" by the head.

Concerns came to light when the school was taken over by The Learning Academy Trust (TLAT) and record-keeping scrutinised.

Mrs Cooke is facing six allegations of wrongdoing including allowing her husband to continue working at the school.

'Too ashamed'

The panel was told that Mr Cooke was seen by neighbours, a teenage boy and the boy's mother, watching pornography on a tablet and masturbating in the garden.

He was given a three-month suspended sentence for outraging public decency.

Mrs Cooke told an earlier internal investigation she was "too ashamed" to tell anyone.

Opening the case, Tom Day said: "It's not clear if she knew the precise details, but one may think that in itself would raise safeguarding concerns."

Claire Ridehalgh, TLAT's chief operating officer, said Mrs Cooke "struggled with some procedural aspects of her role", describing her office as "very messy".

Mrs Cooke was not present for the hearing and faces a teaching ban if the allegations are proven.