Children 'Safe' at Sex Case School

ic Birmingham [United Kingdom]
January 25, 2006

Education chiefs have urged parents not to remove their children from a Birmingham school at the centre of a double sex controversy.

Parents at Ladypool Primary School in Sparkbrook reacted angrily following the arrest of Father John Herve two weeks ago on suspicion of raping a child.

He was released on bail and immediately suspended by the Diocese of Birmingham from his post as vicar of St Agatha's Church, in Sparkbrook.

The allegations against Father Herve came a week after a separate case in which a teaching assistant at Lady-pool Primary was jailed after being exposed as a paedophile who groomed a girl pupil for two years. Father-of-two Mark Smith (35) was sentenced to two-and-a-half years at Birmingham Crown Court last week and banned from working with children for life.

One parent, father-of-three Mohammed Shakeel, is keeping his two sons, seven-year-old Anjum and Mobeen, ten, at home until he is satisfied it is safe for them to return.

Mr Shakeel, aged 39, said: "I'm not happy about what's been going on. I'm keeping my kids away this week as a protest."

Tasleem Bibi, 30, also wants to take her three children out of the school.

"One of my daughters is autistic and I worry about it because she cannot articulate herself. How can I sleep at night?" she said.

Adil Rashid, who has a nephew and niece at the school, helped organise one of the petitions calling for parents to boycott the school.

Mr Rashid, aged 28, said: "We want the headmaster and deputy to resign."

Mother-of-five Miss Grant, who has two children at the school, said: "I have lost all trust in the school. They have covered it up."

But city council chiefs insist there is no reason for fear and urge parents not to join a boycott. Tony Howell, city head of education, said: "We have no reason to believe children are not safe and would not condone any parent withdrawing children from the school.

"Following Mark Smith's conviction, an investigation has commenced and will be concluded as soon as possible.

"In relation to the chair of governors there is a police investigation and we will contribute to that as required in due course."


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