Malicious claims

Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting.

ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk
 

Q: I am a deputy headteacher and I have been accused of a crime outside of school. The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and the police are involved, as the allegation concerns a child. It is a malicious allegation and I am quite sure that my name will be cleared. I am the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) at school and I am concerned that if I tell my head about this, they may feel that, in the circumstances, it would be better if that responsibility was taken away from me temporarily. I am concerned about the effect this may have on my reputation and I am also concerned about any effects this whole episode could have on my future employment.


A: It is very important that when a member is accused of wrong doing, they should immediately inform their headteacher. Failure to do so may amount to a breach of contract (either express and/or implied) and could lead to disciplinary action, and possible termination of employment. In any event, the likelihood of the school finding out is high as the LADO would almost certainly be in touch.

Given the seniority of the role, in conjunction with safeguarding responsibilities, it is possible that the deputy head will be immediately stripped of his or her safeguarding responsibilities and may also be suspended in the first instance, while the police complete their investigations.

If, after investigating, the police decide to take no further action, it is still possible for the school to carry out its own internal disciplinary investigation as under the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance, the school is duty bound to discharge its own safeguarding responsibilities. Furthermore, the evidential thresholds vary between criminal and employment/civil jurisdictions. It may be that the LADO recommends an internal investigation. The criminal investigation (where there is no further action) should not appear on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (although members are advised to seek confirmation of this from the police and challenge if information does appear).

If an internal investigation is not deemed necessary, or an internal investigation concludes that no further internal action is necessary, theoretically, that should be the end of the matter with suspension being lifted and disciplinary proceedings being brought to an end. The deputy head should be able to resume the role of DSL. Furthermore, subject to the question being asked, there would be no reason to disclose this on any future job application.

Members in circumstances similar to those outlined here, are urged to contact the ASCL Hotline as soon as possible. There is a possibility that the police matter (while outside of school) may potentially impact a member’s employment and could also potentially lead to referrals to the Disclosure Barring Service and/or the Teaching Regulation Agency.
 

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