Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 1°C

Search

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

A male cyclist has suffered a serious leg injury after being involved in a collision with a car in Ipswich this evening.

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze in Station Yard, Needham Market

The blaze is believed to have been in a storage unit

Poilce investigation work at the scene of the accident on the A12 at Martlesham Heath.

A toddler is fighting for their life in hospital after they were involved in a two-vehicle crash.

Wymondham Police Investigation Centre (PIC)

An Ipswich man has been charged with murder following a stabbing in Great Yarmouth.

The scene in Back Hamlet, Ipswich

Back Hamlet in Ipswich has reopened after what was described as an “unexploded grenade” was found.

Comedian Stewart Francis

“Nine of diamonds. Sorry, my mind is playing tricks with me.”

A model of Hogwarts Castle used in the filming of the Harry Potter films. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Suffolk has featured in various films and TV shows over the years – but often it is well hidden or shown only briefly.

Sir Bob Russell meets with Paul Geater.

A fortnight ago in my column I was discussing the importance (or not) of car parking prices in attracting visitors to a town for a shopping trip or general day out.

The A12 as it approaches the Copdock roundabout.

One lane is blocked on the A12 at Copdock after a multi-vehicle crash.

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham.

Hopes are rising that the park and ride service will be saved after talks between Suffolk County Council and the Ipswich Vision board.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24