Threat to remove teacher's children

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One of their mums
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat May 22, 2021 6:20 pm

Threat to remove teacher's children

Post by One of their mums » Mon May 24, 2021 5:32 pm

Hello,
We are a happily married lesbian couple with three donor conceived children. I carried our toddler twins and my wife our new baby. We met at work- we teach at the same school.

In Nov 2020 a pupil aged over 16 wrongfully alleged that my wife had touched her on limbs sexually in a public place and made inappropriate comments on a school trip almost a year ago, when she was also over 16. The school followed KCSE Sec 4 and my wife was removed from site; following a LADO meeting the police took her for questioning (she was not arrested). She was suspended from work and told not to contact colleagues and had all her devices seized. Lockdown conditions increased her isolation. We were initially naive and thought she would be cleared quickly as there were witnesses but the police didn't drop it for 116 days (we now await the mandatory school and local authority investigation). My wife was 21 weeks pregnant at the time and her pregnancy had been diagnosed as high risk. She was bewildered by the allegation, which came out the blue, and was in a state of acute shock.

I believe that in the initial LADO meeting it was determined that my wife was not a risk to our male toddlers or unborn child but don't know how to confirm this.

My wife told her community midwife early on that she was suffering from stress and anxiety owing to the false allegation against her and the slow pace of the investigation. The midwife was kind but referred us to children's services. A trainee supervised by another social worker visited our home, questioned us, saw our house etc. We were then accompanied to our sons' nursery. I don't think I will ever get over the humiliation of having our parenting interactions assessed by a social worker while two nursery workers watched. They then wrote a report that (a) was badly written (b) contained inaccuracies and (c) contained the statement that if my wife were to be found guilty, both our toddlers and our unborn child would be seen to be "at risk of emotional harm" and would be "placed with a person of care".

I emailed and politely corrected the inaccuracy which was potentially damaging and asked for the term "person of care" to be defined. CS replied that it meant a "qualified person".

My questions are:

*How can I establish the decisions about the risk to our children in the police/school/LADO strategy meeting?
*Once CS received the referral from the midwife, should they have contacted the LADO to see if any risk assessment had already been made regarding the safety of our children before assessing us? We don't accept that it might have been on grounds of maternal mental health as CS did not ask a single question about my wife's mental or physical health in pregnancy despite it having been a midwife referral based on my wife's emotional state. The midwife had also stated that she did not think there was a risk of my wife not bonding with the unborn baby.
*The threat to remove our children based on a minor allegation against one parent involving an over 16 and with no allegation against the other parent seems very heavy-handed. Do I have grounds for a complaint here?

The assessment by CS and the threat in writing to remove our twins and our unborn son made my wife's pregnancy even more hellish and also caused me severe emotional distress. I would like to complain as I do not think the assessment of us and the subsequent written threat that children could be removed was either necessary or proportionate.
Thank you for reading and thank you in advance for any advice.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3057
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Threat to remove teacher's children

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:14 pm

Dear One of their mums,
Welcome to the Parent's Forum. I am Suzie, FRG's online adviser.
I am sorry to hear about the stressful time you and your partner have had whilst waiting for the criminal investigation to be completed. I can see how stressful this must have been particularly as your partner is pregnant.
I can see that there was a criminal allegation made against your partner within the context of a school and the police have investigated and are taking no further action. The school and local authority are still investigating.
It is not clear whether the LADO made a referral to children services. Your wife should contact the LADO for further information around her initial involvement. Or she could check the social workers assessment which should usually outline what referrals have been received.
I am also not sure what a “person of care” or “qualified person” means in the context of an assessment. Are you based in England or Wales? Any removal of a child from a parent can only occur if a parent agrees or if a court orders it. (In very urgent cases when a child is in imminent danger then the police can remove a child using police protection powers for up to 72 hours). Please see our FAQ here.
When a child is removed, the law says the child should be placed first with a parent, second with “connected” persons (friends or family) before any un- related foster placement.
It is unclear from your post whether children services are still involved. Have they just assessed and closed their case? Or are they still involved? If so, at what level-child in need, child protection etc? See our triangle diagram for different levels of involvement by children services.
In answer to your questions, strategy meetings are professional meetings which parents are not invited to. Decisions are usually around what immediate steps need to be taken to protect a child and gather evidence, whether or not there should be a child protection investigation or whether a child protection conference should happen. Ask the social worker or the LADO about the meeting and what decisions were made. They are unlikely to give you a copy of the minutes but may advise about the decisions that were made.
Here is information on our A to Z of terms about strategy meetings and LADO’s.

I would have expected the social worker to get in touch with the LADO to find out about the LADO’s involvement so that this could inform the social workers assessment of risk.
The threat of removal of baby for emotional abuse is not clear to me. Is she thinking that this is due to the impact of a guilty conviction on your partners mental health, or she might suffer harassment in the community due to it being an alleged sexual offence? Even though the police have dropped the case against your partner, what is children services view about any alleged ongoing risk of sexual abuse? The assessment should be clear about that. For example, does there need to be further forensic risk assessments? I think you should also be careful not to minimize the allegation against your partner as children services may assess that you are not able to protect your children as you do not think the allegation, if it was true, is harmful.
Parents Protect have information about how to protect against any sexual abuse risks.
I suggest you call our advice line to discuss any complaint you might make. Here is information about complaints.

Please post again if you have any questions.
Best wishes,
Suzie

One of their mums
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat May 22, 2021 6:20 pm

Re: Threat to remove teacher's children

Post by One of their mums » Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:35 pm

Hi, thank you, I will call the advice line.

The police dropped the case on day 116. We are now on day 187 and the school/LADO investigation is still pending. Consequently, my wife is not allowed to contact the LADO directly.

We are in England.

Children's services closed the case but made those comments in the report.

They forgot to advise the midwife and so my wife's carers continued to believe she was still under social services scrutiny as a parent until I contacted CS again once this became clear.

I believe they meant by emotional harm that if my wife were found to be guilty then she must be a risk to our children. I do not think they considered her mental health or community harassment.

I understand your point about not minimising the allegation and we both agree that any such allegation is serious and procedures must be followed. However, I feel our treatment was clumsy and heavy handed.

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