James McMenemy, Former Kerelaw School Teacher, Cleared Of 'Throwing Rocks At Students'

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James McMenemy, Former Kerelaw School Teacher, Cleared Of 'Throwing Rocks At Students'
James McMenemy, Former Kerelaw School Teacher, Cleared Of 'Throwing Rocks At Students'

A teacher accused of throwing rocks at pupils who attended a secure unit for Scotland's most vulnerable teenagers has been cleared but found guilty of using unnecessary force against others.

James McMenemy worked at Kerelaw School and Secure Unit, North Ayrshire; the latter was home to whom the BBC described as "100 of the most disturbed teenagers" in the country. He stood before the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) accused of 15 charges but only five were found proven.

The school was closed down in 2004, with the secure unit following a year later as a result of internal investigations of abuse allegations made by former staff and residents.

Matthew George, an art teacher, was jailed in 2006 for a series of physical and sexual assaults at the Stevenston school.

Glasgow City Council were later criticised for failing to implement improvements, with a report saying the school had "not learned lessons".

On Tuesday, the GTCS told McMenemy he would be removed from the teaching register and barred from reapplying for 12 months.

On one occasion, McMenemy dragged a pupil into his office, using force which the student described as "sheer brutality".

The disciplinary panel found the accusation of McMenemy using "unlawful restraints" against another pupil proven, after he "forcibly pinned" the teenager on the floor by the neck. Although the former teacher insisted he had acted to protect another pupil in the class, the panel deemed his actions breached the guidelines on Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI).

During another attempt to restrain a female pupil, McMenemy "twisted her hand and arm to her injury" and the incident resulted in the pupil sustaining a sprained wrist and requiring hospital treatment.

The report by the sub-committee added: "We acknowledge and recognise that teachers can face situations which require an immediate response in order to protect children. However there were other staff members in the vicinity who could have been called upon to intervene in the proper application of TCI."

McMenemy was cleared by the GTCS of the following charges, among others:

  • Throwing pupils into rivers and streams and then hurling rocks at them, while forcing them to walk with wet clothing
  • Striking a pupil's face on the ground
  • Repeatedly punching a pupil in the head and body
  • Threats to contact police with false criminal allegations against the pupils

Former pupils at the List D school had previously disputed the claims of violence, the teacher was a "calming influence" and someone who gave his "heart and soul" to the school.

The sub-committee concluded: "The nature of the conduct contained within the charges held proven fell short of the standard expected of a registered teacher."

The panel recognised the "additional demands of working with such vulnerable young people", but added: "However those vulnerable young people are entitled to the same standards of professional conduct towards them as would be applied to children in any educational establishment."