A pupil at a special school, where the former headteacher is accused of spending thousands of pounds of school money on private holidays, missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Jamaica because another teacher took four members of her family instead.
Margaret Simcox and Susan Duncan, who worked at The Meadows School in Dudley Road East, Oldbury, are accused of unacceptable professional conduct for allowing four members of Miss Simcox’s family to attend a school trip to Jamaica.
Chairman of governors Wendy Dugmore, speaking at a hearing for the General Teaching Council in Birmingham yesterday, said it was untrue that the places taken by Miss Simcox’s family could not have been filled by pupils.
She said there was definitely one student in the school who was “desperate” to go on the Caribbean holiday. “He actually came up to me and said, ‘I have been asked to see you because I want to do the trip next year. I wanted to go this year’,” she said. “He was desperate to go.”
“I couldn’t understand why Margaret’s son was on the trip,” she added. “At the time I was told by a senior member of staff that he just happened to get a cheap flight and he just happened to stay at the same resort as the children.”
Miss Simcox and Miss Duncan are also accused of allowing the family members to travel on a school trip without being properly checked to work with children and for making false claims for expenses including trips to Jamaica and Antigua.
Neither teacher attended the hearing but, in a witness statement, Duncan said she claimed for scuba diving equipment on expenses because it was essential if she was to pass one of the objectives set out in her personal review – to become a dive master.
Miss Dugmore, no longer employed at The Meadows School, said this was untrue as the equipment was already provided at Cannock Dive Club, where Miss Duncan was studying for her diving certificates.
“She wouldn’t have needed the knife, the slate, and she wouldn’t have needed two lots of equipment,” Miss Dugmore added. Miss Dugmore also denied claims that plants and benches bought by Duncan were used in school grounds.
During the hearing the governor revealed she had once been “very good friends” with Duncan but that three months before the head teacher was suspended she had begun to act strangely. “For some reason I still don’t understand, three years on, she decided that she was going to befriend another member of my family, my sister, and she would completely cut me out of her life,” Miss Dugmore said. “Her friendship was no longer with me but with my sister which caused me lots of personal issues.
“It was very, very strange. I had a number of text messages from her which were very unpleasant. I switched my phone off and that was the last contact I had with her. I don’t know why she did it.”
The hearing has been adjourned until Tuesday for extra documents to be located and read by the panel.
An earlier allegation that Miss Duncan inappropriately removed £27,600 from one school budget to the Jamaica Fund trip has been dropped.