Head cleared of slapping will not face new charges

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The Independent Online

Marjorie Evans, the headteacher cleared of slapping a 10-year-old boy, will not face charges over fresh allegations of mistreating pupils, police said yesterday.

Marjorie Evans, the headteacher cleared of slapping a 10-year-old boy, will not face charges over fresh allegations of mistreating pupils, police said yesterday.

Mrs Evans spoke of her "relief and delight" after the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that no further action will be taken following an investigation into claims by staff at St Mary's Junior School in Caldicot, south Wales.

The 56-year-old headteacher was cleared on appeal six weeks ago after being found guilty in July of slapping a pupil at the school. She had hoped to be reinstated but was suspended while police conducted a second investigation into allegations of mistreatment, which later led to claims that Mrs Evans was the victim of a witch-hunt.

Mrs Evans said yesterday: "Having poured all my energies into clearing my name, I was shocked and dumbfounded to learn that new allegations had been made.

"I am delighted and relieved that no charges are being brought against me but am angry that this whole episode has dragged on over a year.

"I thought the ordeal was over and couldn't believe it when told of the further allegations. The last six weeks have been the most stressful of my life.

"I am determined not to be hounded out of the job I was born to do, and which I love."

School governors will meet tomorrow to consider Mrs Evans' future. Members of Monmouthshire Council's child protection committee are also expected to discuss the case later this week.

If her suspension is lifted, Mrs Evans could be back at the school on Monday after the half-term holiday.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, called for Mrs Evans to be reinstated. He said: "I hope this brings to an end the torment she has suffered for more than a year. There are lessons to be learned from the way this matter has been conducted, and we hope they have been learned."

Later this week, the union is planning to issue a new set of guidelines for dealing with disruptive pupils.

Gethin Lewis, the union's Welsh secretary, said: "This whole case has sent a shiver down the spine of the teaching profession. No other teacher or headteacher had been put through the stress Marjorie Evans had been put through this year."

Graham Powell, who was ousted last month as the chair of governors at St Mary's, said: "[I am] genuinely delighted with the outcome - it vindicates us both. I think that after what she has gone through, she should now be reinstated at the earliest opportunity."

Phil Cooke, director of lifelong learning and leisure at Monmouthshire County Council, defended the investigation by police.

He said: "If all this could have been done sooner it would have benefited everyone, but I have no evidence that the police or ourselves could have speeded up the process.

Mr Cooke added: "I understand the effect it had on us all. It has had an effect on the school, but the school has managed marvellously in the circumstances in terms of keeping going."

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