Thu, 12 Oct 2017
A TEACHER who branded homosexual people “diseased” in front of a class of vulnerable pupils in Thatcham has been banned from the profession.
Joshua Onduso was judged to have abused his position of trust as a teacher following the remarks in May 2015.
A professional conduct panel heard that the 50-year-old science and careers teacher had called homosexual people “diseased” and “like animals” after pupils asked him what he thought about rock music and homosexuals.
Mr Onduso was also alleged to have pointed to his head and said that homosexuals “had something wrong upstairs”, the panel sitting at the National College for Teaching and Leadership in Coventry heard.
The comments were made at the pupil referral unit, then based at the Moorside Community Centre, which taught pupils unable to attend mainstream schools.
The panel was told that many of the pupils suffered from a range of emotional and mental health difficulties and had been distressed by Mr Onduso’s comments.
Mr Onduso denied the allegation and was suspended pending completion of an investigation.
He was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct bringing teaching into disrepute.
The panel found that the comments also “fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession” and that Mr Onduso failed to demonstrate tolerance and respect for the rights and beliefs of others.
Charles Elton, representing Mr Onduso, argued that the alleged words were those of teenagers and not of a middle-aged professional man.
But the panel disagreed and was persuaded by the headteacher’s evidence that she expected more swear words had the comments been fabricated by pupils.
While the panel found no evidence that Mr Onduso had not previously made offensive or homophobic comments, they had been made “during a moderately stressful environment and in response to questions asked by pupils”.
However, the panel found Mr Onduso to have a “deep-seated attitude leading to harmful behaviour”.
Following the incident, Mr Onduso stated to the headteacher: “I don’t encourage gay people because of my beliefs, I am a Christian. I don’t condone what they do.”
And, during panel questioning, Mr Onduso was asked how he responded to a comment made by a pupil that “she hated lesbian people”.
Mr Onduso was asked whether he had challenged the comment and replied that he did not.
The panel said it did not have the confidence that “Mr Onduso could behave appropriately in a school setting and does not consider that further training would address the concerns given the findings of a deep-seated attitude that leads to harmful behaviour”.
The panel considered that Mr Onduso was in a position of trust and that he should have been acting as a role model to pupils
Furthermore, they considered that Mr Onduso “had not demonstrated any remorse and he failed to convince the panel that he understood the seriousness of such actions”.
Mr Onduso can appeal the decision at the High Court.
A spokeswoman for West Berkshire Council, Joanne Bassett, said: “We are aware of the case and that Mr Onduso was suspended as a result of the incident and did not teach in the unit again.
“He has subsequently been dismissed and no longer has any connection with West Berkshire Council.
“We are unable to talk specifically about the details of this case, but suffice to say, we have a strong equal opportunities policy in place as do our schools.”