A former Fife teacher was spotted with an illegal drug thought to be cocaine while working with an additional support needs charity.
Lee Watt – who previously taught modern studies at Glenrothes’ Glenwood High School and St Columba’s RC High School in Dunfermline – was working with a vulnerable child when a colleague saw the white powder in his car.
He has been reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) after admitting possessing an illegal drug during a shift at his place of work.
Although no longer teaching, Watt remains on the teaching register and the sanction will remain on his record.
Watt – who claimed the drug was not his – was working with Supporting Positive Paths, which supports children and adults with additional support needs, when the incident occurred on October 13, 2020.
White powder on car seat
The colleague with him at the time told their employer they had seen a packet of white powder on the back seat when Watt got out of the vehicle.
On returning to the vehicle, Watt, the colleague said, put the packet back in his pocket.
He then assisted the child during a subsequent car journey.
Watt claimed he had found the drug at home after having had friends over, did not know what it was and had picked it up with the intention of disposing of it.
He apologised to his employer but was sacked from his job, and is understood to now be working as an employment advisor.
The incident was not reported to police, and as the substance was not seized and analysed, it could not be established that it was cocaine.
The conduct constitutes an abuse of a position of trust.”
GTCS fitness to teach panel
Watt did not respond to the final allegation made against him by the GTCS and was absent when his case called in October, last year, but did admit at an earlier stage in proceedings to having what he believed was a drug at work.
Before the incident he had spent a year working at Glenwood until August 2020, and a year at St Columba’s as a probationary teacher.
The fitness to teach panel concluded that Watt’s conduct was serious and fell short of the standards expected of a registered teacher.
It said Watt had abused his position of trust but had shown remorse, and the isolated incident was unlikely to happen again.
But it said it had to consider the public interest and added: “The panel considered that the public would be anxious about the nature of the allegation given that it related to a substance believed to be an illegal drug.
“The panel had in mind the maintenance of the public’s confidence in teachers and in the integrity of the teaching profession.
“Further, the panel reflected upon the maintenance of the public’s confidence in GTC Scotland as a professional regulator.
“The panel concluded that the public interest, with reference to the elements above, would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.”
It added: “That disposal indicates to the profession and the public the gravity of the matter at issue and maintains public confidence in teachers, the teaching profession and in GTC Scotland as a professional regulator.”
Watt was placed on a period of reprimand for 12 months.
Fife Council said it could not discuss individual circumstances of current or former staff members.
But Sharon McKenzie, head of humans resources, said: “We take the safety and wellbeing of those in our care extremely seriously, and will always take action against inappropriate or criminal behaviour within our organisation.”