Pubdate: Wed, 02 Jun 2004
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2004
Author: Matthew Cooper


Three teenagers who were expelled from their school after being caught in
possession of cannabis have been reinstated by an appeals panel, it emerged

Herefordshire county council confirmed that St Mary's Roman Catholic High
School in Lugwardine, near Hereford, had been forced to allow the youths to
return to classes despite a "zero tolerance" drugs policy.

The decision -- which has been criticised by the school's headteacher Clive
Lambert, teaching unions, politicians and parents of other pupils -- was
made after the panel found that the expulsion of the 15-year-olds had been
"too harsh".

Dennis Longmore, Herefordshire Council's Manager of Pupil, School and Parent
Support, insisted that the appeals panel had handled the cases fairly.

"The three cases of permanent exclusion were very closely examined, in turn,
by the Independent Appeals Panel," Mr Longmore said.

"This panel was totally independent of both the school and the education

"After hearing all the evidence put before it, each case was objectively
judged on its own merits, in the same way a court would do.

"The Appeals Panel decision is final and binding on the parent, the
governing body, the headteacher and the Local Education Authority."

Earlier, Mr Lambert described the reinstatements as a serious attack on the
autonomy of schools.

He told the Daily Mail: "What got under our skin is the fact that we
followed our policy and Government guidelines to the letter and an appeals
panel can overturn school policy like that.

"A lot of the parents are very angry."

It is understood that the boys were caught with cannabis in March amid
allegations that one of them had sold the drug, another had given it away
and a third had passed a joint to classmates.

They were then expelled with the approval of the comprehensive school's
governors, but the appeals panel overturned the sanction last month.
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