§ MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)
asked the Secretary for Scotland, Whether a boy named Stewart lost a leg in consequence of having been pushed violently against some wooden steps in Cambusnethan Public School in May last by the assistant female teacher; whether, when the case was reported to the Procurator Fiscal, who is also clerk to the School Board, he declined to take it up; whether the School Board allowed four months to elapse before any inquiry was made; and, whether he would cause further inquiry to be made into the case?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrews' Universities)
(who replied) said: A boy, aged four years, attending Cambusnethan Public School did, towards the end of May last, sustain some injury to his left leg, and, in consequence of this, the leg was amputated on 1st October. It is alleged by the father that the injury was caused by his being pushed by an assistant female teacher and caused to stumble against a wooden step between two class rooms. He had been called into the room for punishment, and it is said that he received the push when returning to his own class 563 room. The boy went on with his work for two hours afterwards without complaint. In the evening he complained of pain in his heel. His foot was examined, but showed no signs of injury. On the following morning, as his knee was swollen, his mother sent for a doctor. The boy was ordered to be kept in bed, and a suppuration in the knee was lanced. He was allowed to get up, contrary to the doctor's orders, and thereafter secondary inflammation set in, and amputation became necessary. About a fortnight after the alleged assault, a complaint was made by one of the parents to the Procurator Fiscal of the burgh, who made an inquiry, and was satisfied that the evidence would not justify a criminal information. But as the case was one for a Superior Court, if it was to be tried at all, he referred it to the Procurator Fiscal of the county, who also formed the opinion that there was no ground for a criminal charge. An inquiry was made at the time by the convener of the School Committee, and about four months after the occurrence a letter was written by the father of the boy to the School Board, and an inquiry was made. The Board was of opinion that there was no evidence to substantiate the charge against the teacher. In consequence of another representation made by the parents to me, a careful and exhaustive inquiry was made. The evidence proved very conflicting, many of the witnesses being young children. But there is evidence that on the morning of the occurrence the boy Stewart, while running hurriedly towards the school on the ringing of the school bell, fell over a cart weighing steelyard. The fall seems to have been a severe one, as, although he rose without assistance, he was unsteady in his walk, and was seen to stagger for some distance. The doctor who attended him states that this fall would be very likely to cause the injury. I formed the opinion that there was no ground for a criminal charge, and the inquiry already made having been exhaustive, I do not intend to re-open the matter.