Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

WIN A NEW HYUNDAI i10 - See the EADT on June 8 for full details

Ipswich: Former teaching assistant claims school tried to blame her for son’s crimes

16:12 21 December 2012

Tracy Hodgkinson of Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich has the perfect christmas present as she celebrates the news that she has won her employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Tracy Hodgkinson of Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich has the perfect christmas present as she celebrates the news that she has won her employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Archant

THEY blamed me for my son’s crimes.

shares

Those were the words of a teaching assistant who was sacked from an Ipswich school after concerns were raised over her contact with her sex offender son.

An employment tribunal found that Tracy Hodgkinson was unfairly dismissed from her position at Halifax Primary in January.

The 47-year-old, of Hawthorn Drive, said the last year had been a “living nightmare”.

“I am just so pleased that the little person has fought against all odds and won,” she said.

“At the end of the day I took them on because while I know my son has done wrong – I’m not disputing that and have never condoned his crime – it was his crime, not mine.”

Mrs Hodgkinson’s son, who was 18 at the time, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in May 2010 for sexual activity with a female under the age of 14 and a further offence of grooming.

She claimed the school set out to get rid of her after she informed headteacher Anna Hennell-James and Janice Lee, strategic manager for the learning and improvement service at Suffolk County Council, that her son had been arrested in November 2009.

The mum-of-one was eventually dismissed in January but she took the Prince of Wales Drive school to a tribunal.

In his judgement, tribunal Judge Moore found she was unfairly dismissed due to the way the school treated her following the arrest of her son.

Mrs Hodgkinson, whose daughter Shona Gill died from a rare form of cancer in December 2004, says she has applied to be reinstated.

“I had worked at the school for ten years, I loved it there and my little girl loved it there before she died,” she said.

“Now I can’t look at it in the same way.

“After losing my daughter I couldn’t just stop seeing my son. He’s the only child I have left.

“After I told the school it seemed everything I did was picked up on. It feels like they have tried to make me pay for what my son did.

“Me having contact with my son poses no risk to the children.

“They [the school] have tried to make me out to be a bad person. It’s been a living nightmare.”

The school’s concerns surrounded two incidents:

n Mrs Hodgkinson received a visiting request for a friend’s 15-year-old daughter to visit her son at Norwich Prison – a request the prison later admitted they should not have issued – and called her parents to seek their permission. When the girl’s mum refused, Mrs Hodgkinson said she had not informed the school because the visit hadn’t happened and as such hadn’t considered it a “serious matter”.

n Mrs Hodgkinson met her son at a McDonald’s restaurant after his release to a bail hostel in Ipswich. When the pair met, her son had a friend from the hostel with him. The school raised concerns that Mrs Hodgkinson should not be associating with offenders.

Delivering his judgement, Judge Moore said Mrs Hodgkinson had not been handed any formal disciplinary warnings, “let alone a warning her job was at risk”.

He said the school’s case that they could “no longer have trust and confidence in her” because she was associating with known sex offenders and had failed to appreciate she was acting in a way which was inconsistent with carrying out her role as a teaching assistant, “was not based on reasonable grounds”.

The judgement document also states the “evidence showed that the claimant [Mrs Hodgkinson] had a history of raising safeguarding concerns and that this had not stopped following her son’s arrest”.

Halifax Primary School’s chair of governors, Roger Fern, said: “The case remains part of the legal process, including the possibility of appeal.

“Therefore to comment further on the details at this stage would not be appropriate.

“All actions taken by the school are focused on ensuring that all young people have a good educational experience in a safe and nurturing environment.”

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

shares

2 comments

  • S F S Standard for Suffolk Small minded & flipping stupid.

    Report this comment

    J C

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • well done tracy you took them on and hopefully won why should you be held responsible, did anyone in that school do any homework may be they should dish it out to themselves rather than the pupils they need some kind of guidance

    Report this comment

    peddler

    Friday, December 21, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Suffolk show day 2
Another beautiful day at the Suffolk show

Could a record-breaking Suffolk Show be heading to break even for the first time in years?

Interbreed sheep supreme champion judging

There is no hiding the broad smiles on the faces of the organisers of the Suffolk Show this afternoon.

Emergency services at the scene of the fatal crash near Rougham

A teenager who died following a crash on the A14 near Rougham on Tuesday has been named as John Walsh.

Travellers on St Andrew's long stay car park, Bury St Edmunds.

Travellers have moved onto a Bury St Edmunds town centre car park which is already covered by an injunction to prevent illegal encampments.

The collision on the A14 in Girton

Police have stopped motorists who have been filming or taking pictures of a crash site on the A14 that involved four lorries and a car.

Judging takes place for the Suffolk Agricultural Association and Young Farmers Stockpersons competition, in memory of Charlotte Cobbald.

Young Farmers from across Suffolk and north Essex today took part in a new competition created to celebrate the life of Charlotte Cobbald, who died last year at the age of 17.

Two Rivers Medical Centre

Work to create a £6million state-of-the-art medical centre in Ipswich is set to get under way next month, it has been revealed.

Visitors got to take part in a range of activities in the sports village at the Suffolk Show 2015. The Ipswich Handball Club.

Get active, be active and stay active.

Daryl Fruen with Rocky the continental giant

My best in show by a clear mile had to be Rocky, the award-winning continental giant rabbit.

Library image of a police car.

A five vehicle collision on the A14 is caused severe delays for motorists heading to the Suffolk Show earlier this morning.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages