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Great Harwood teacher remains suspended despite assault acquittal
12:00pm Saturday 18th August 2012 in News
A TEACHER who was found not guilty of slapping an ‘out of control’ pupil remains suspended from his Great Harwood school.
Royden Cope, deputy head teacher at St Bartholomew’s CofE Primary School, was arrested after accusations that he grabbed the child, who was in an ‘incandescent rage’, by the wrists and then hit him across the face when he did not calm down.
But Mr Cope, who has been a teacher for 41 years said the youngster was ‘flailing and struggling to get away’ so much that his head had collided with his hand as he tried to protect him.
Blackburn magistrates cleared him of the assault charge, saying there were ‘real doubts’ about the case.
Parents of children at the school are now expressing their support for the 63-year-old, who lives in Hatfield Road, Accrington.
He will remain suspended from the Ash Street school until September and may be facing another internal investigation once term restarts.
Gaenor Bridges, who lives in Edge End, said her nine-year-old daughter Isobel was so upset by what had happened that she wrote a letter of support to Mr Cope.
Mrs Bridges said: “She wanted to tell him that she missed him and that she hoped he would come back to school soon.
“She was frightened he was going to go to prison.
“All the children love him, it has been very sad for them.
“The parents are all in support of him, I have not spoken to anyone who is not.
“Every parent was just really aghast that it came to that and I think it could have been dealt with internally.”
A spokesman from the children’s and young people’s department at Lancashire County Council said that because allegations had been made, the school had to start its own investigation.
He said: “When the school reconvenes, then they will have to make a decision on how to proceed.
“Mr Cope was suspended throughout all this and he remains suspended.
“It is a separate procedure at schools, we have to do a separate disciplinary procedure.
“Sometimes procedures are different to legal procedures, so they still have to take place.
“The range of sanctions in a disciplinary procedure is from dismissal downwards and all those options are open, however this it isn't to say that all or any of this will happen in Mr Cope's individual case.”