Velmead Junior School parents are campaigning for the return of Andrew Howard who was found not guilty of two charges of sexual activity with a boy
Parents have started a campaign for the return of a headteacher after he was unanimously found not guilty of two charges of sexual activity with a teenage boy.
It took a jury at Winchester Crown Court less than an hour to clear Andrew Howard, the suspended head of Velmead Junior School in Fleet, who had denied two counts of sexual activity with a child under 16.
After the jury returned their verdict on October 8, judge Andrew Barnett told the 46-year-old that he could leave court “without a stain on your character”.
The verdict has delighted parents at the Velmead Road school, and an online petition was quickly started to get him reinstated.
More than 270 people have signed it so far.
A spokesperson for the petition, who asked not to be named, said: “Mr Howard was suspended earlier this year due to unfounded allegations made against him by a minor.
“He was tried and found innocent and acquitted of all charges against him. Mr Howard is a fantastic headteacher and the support from the parents and children through this whole horrendous ordeal has never wavered.
“I can’t believe that allegations can be falsely made and proven to be false and yet Mr Howard may still not be able to return to Velmead.
“Good teachers should be treasured as these are the people that help mould the future generations.”
Fleet resident Sarah Horton has signed the petition. She worked at Velmead until recently and her daughter studied there.
“I signed the petition because Andrew Howard is a superb headteacher,” said Mrs Horton.
“His absolute number one concern was always the welfare of the children. For him that comes above everything.
“He worked with utmost integrity and professionalism in all that he did at Velmead.
“It would be a travesty if he were not allowed to continue there over what was a completely unfounded allegation.
“Sue Runciman has done a superb job as acting headteacher, but it is time that Andy regained his rightful role again.”
A Velmead parent, who preferred not to be named but also signed the petition, said Mr Howard was a ‘wonderful’ headteacher who is well liked and respected by staff, parents and pupils.
“As a parent I feel he has been much missed and would really welcome his return to Velmead,” she added.
“While Mrs Runciman and all the teaching staff have done an excellent job during his leave of absence, the school hasn’t felt the same without his personality and leadership.
“Many parents will be delighted if he returns but most importantly so will the children. I think the last couple of months have shown what a tight-knit and supportive school community we have at Velmead.
“Mr Howard should return with his head held high and I hope Hampshire County Council will act quickly to complete the formalities and reinstate him.”
A council spokesperson said: “In accordance with the procedures where an employee facing such charges is found not guilty, it is necessary for the governing body and the local authority to review the situation before making a decision about whether a return to work is appropriate.
“This process is likely to take a few weeks.
“We shall be starting this process immediately.
“In the meanwhile, for legal reasons we are unable to comment on this matter further pending the outcome of this review, but we hope it will be concluded at the earliest opportunity."