North Wales Police Probe Special School Allegations

POLICE are investigating a string of staff e-mails raising child protection concerns at a school for children with autism. The news comes as council officers prepare to read a report into the conduct of the headmaster at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn, Dr Michael Toman, who allegedly allowed staff to photograph a child’s bare bottom.

Last night, North Wales Police confirmed they are working with social services to investigate e-mails sent by a member of staff last week.

It is believed they contain highly controversial allegations about practices at the regional centre of excellence for children with autistic spectrum disorders in Denbigh.

A force spokesman said: “We can confirm that e-mail correspondence relating to child protection concerns at Ysgol Brondyffryn are currently the subject of joint investigation by Denbighshire social services and the police.”

This week, a report into claims Dr Toman kept an 18-month “neglect diary” and allowed staff to photograph a severely autistic pupil, will be read and discussed by an independent panel.

The head for the past 10 years was replaced by Richard Williams, deputy headteacher at St Christopher’s School in Wrexham, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Dr Toman was removed from his job along with the school’s child protection coordinator, and put on restricted duties after worried parents called for an inquiry in September.

The father of the severely autistic pupil at the centre of the probe said staff gathered information on his child, who cannot speak, and took photographs of its bare bottom without parental consent, and without informing social services.

The independent inquiry was launched by the education authority and bosses at Denbighshire County Council.

Amid the controversy, a letter by Coun Hugh Evans, praising the school, said: “Staff, pupils and the work at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn are held in high regard by the majority of parents and on a regional level.

He added: “There is a lot of good work going on, carried out by a dedicated team of staff, and this should be recognised.”

A Denbighshire Council spokesman said of the finished report: “There are strict regulations to follow with these kinds of reports.

“The recommendations need to be discussed by an independent group of people, they will then consider whether the recommendations are appropriate.

“The council cannot make any comment on the report until that has taken place.”