Parent governor banned from Belmont school campus after bus driver stand-off

SAFETY FEARS: Mark Gilbank with his daughter Lucy outside Belmont Community School

SAFETY FEARS: Mark Gilbank with his daughter Lucy outside Belmont Community School

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Reporter (Durham)

A PARENT governor has been banned from school grounds and threatened with police action following a stand-off with a bus driver.

Mark Gilbank is threatening to pull his autistic daughter out of the school and take the issue to the Department for Education, Ofsted and his local MP.

“I’m devastated. It’s making life difficult for my little girl," he said.

“It’s putting her under an awful lot of strain and she’s suffering.”

Because of eight-year-old Lucy’s autism, her father previously drove onto the Belmont campus, in Durham – home to Belmont’s infant, CE junior and community schools – to drop and collect her at the door.

Lucy has no concept of danger and would otherwise run away, Mr Gilbank, an infant school governor, said. Problems began on Monday, February 3, when Mr Gilbank was in a queue of traffic blocking a school bus from leaving the campus.

A confrontation developed between Mr Gilbank, the bus driver and a school staff member after Mr Gilbank, of West Rainton, refused to reverse onto a crossing or mount the pavement without assistance, for fear of children’s safety.

The stand-off was only resolved when a parent offered to watch him back as he reversed.

After the situation was repeated a few weeks later, the three schools’ headteachers have now banned Mr Gilbank from the campus, accusing him of having caused an obstruction, been abusive towards staff and taken photographs which resulted in complaints from parents and children.

In a letter to Mr Gilbank, they write: “As a consequence of your recent conduct your licence to be present on campus premises will be revoked and you will only be allowed onto the campus by written invitation.

“In such instances please note that you will not be allowed to drive your car onto the campus.

“Furthermore, please be advised that any conduct by you of a similar nature may result in a criminal prosecution.”

Mr Gilbank said: “I feel the school is being unreasonable.

“They’re closing ranks when I’ve brought up a legitimate health and safety issue.”

Lucy and her brother Henry, five, are now being dropped and collected at school by other family members.

Janice Wynn, the infant school headteacher, said: “Decisions like this are never taken lightly and are always in the interest of pupils, parents and staff on the campus.”

Comments (6)

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9:32am Tue 8 Apr 14

reasoned view says...

I wonder what really happened?
I wonder what really happened? reasoned view
  • Score: 18

11:01am Tue 8 Apr 14

darloboss says...

sounds like mr. gilbank has been behaving like a diva
sounds like mr. gilbank has been behaving like a diva darloboss
  • Score: 21

11:17am Tue 8 Apr 14

hippyjohn says...

you usually find that people who drive buses think they ALWAYS have right of way. as opposed by real bus drivers who are used to providing a service
you usually find that people who drive buses think they ALWAYS have right of way. as opposed by real bus drivers who are used to providing a service hippyjohn
  • Score: -13

1:37pm Tue 8 Apr 14

chrisby33 says...

Dont be so lazy, park your car and walk your children to the door like every other parent.
Dont be so lazy, park your car and walk your children to the door like every other parent. chrisby33
  • Score: 22

6:56pm Tue 8 Apr 14

rat man says...

Sometimes regular short walks in the fresh air, and verbal interaction with other parents can have positive and rewarding benefits!
Sometimes regular short walks in the fresh air, and verbal interaction with other parents can have positive and rewarding benefits! rat man
  • Score: 10

2:01pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Ally F says...

Seems virtually every child has 'special needs' these days resulting in them needed to be cocooned in cotton wool and mollycoddled. Then they grow up introverted, retiring, and ill prepared for the reality check and responsibility of adulthood....

Sometimes methinks the parents have the special need for attention not the child.... (The child has ADHD* by proxy if you like)

* Insert appropriate acronymn/name of fashionable special need...
Seems virtually every child has 'special needs' these days resulting in them needed to be cocooned in cotton wool and mollycoddled. Then they grow up introverted, retiring, and ill prepared for the reality check and responsibility of adulthood.... Sometimes methinks the parents have the special need for attention not the child.... (The child has ADHD* by proxy if you like) * Insert appropriate acronymn/name of fashionable special need... Ally F
  • Score: 4

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