Cornwall

Head teacher facing ban for failing to disclose husband's caution

Sarah and Peter Cooke Image copyright Cornwall Live
Image caption Peter Cooke was cautioned in 2012 for stealing a bag of women's underwear

A head teacher who failed to disclose her school caretaker husband's police caution is facing a classroom ban.

Sarah Cooke was principal of Foxhole Academy in St Austell where Peter Cooke carried out occasional maintenance.

A disciplinary panel found she did not tell bosses of a possible safeguarding issue relating to a 2012 police caution to Mr Cooke for stealing underwear.

The panel found she breached professional standards and recommended a prohibition order.

The education secretary is to make a final decision on the case in due course.

'Lax attitude'

Mrs Cooke resigned after her husband of 30 years was arrested early last year, this time over an allegation of outraging public decency in front of a teenage boy.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) professional misconduct panel found Mrs Cooke had showed "a lax attitude" and "complete disregard" for safeguarding her pupils, and stated she was guilty of five charges of wrongdoing.

It found she had "displayed behaviour of serious dishonesty" in lying to her bosses that she had filled in child safeguarding paperwork.

She also failed to carry out proper staff background checks for both her husband and herself.

The panel was told Mrs Cooke failed to carry out a check for her husband, despite being reminded three times in the space of six months that it was her job to do so.

She was also found to have allowed her husband to continue working at the school, despite knowing of his police caution for theft.

Peter Cooper, NCTL panel chairman, said Mrs Cooke should have known that her husband "had the potential to pose a significant risk to the children in her care".

An allegation Mrs Cooke failed to disclose to employers that her husband was under investigation last year for outraging public decency was found not proven.

Mr Cooke, of Newquay, was given a suspended three-month jail term at Truro Crown Court in November after being found guilty of the offence.

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

Panel members decided his wife did not know the exact detail of the criminal inquiry at the time, but should have taken independent advice so a risk assessment could be undertaken.

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