UPDATE: VOTE IN OUR POLL: Stalham High School head teacher Melinda Derry rapped for Stalham Recreation Ground drugs and sex ‘slur’
A north Norfolk head teacher has been given a sound ticking-off by angry town councillors after she claimed their recreation ground was used by young people having sex, taking drugs and for under-age drinking.
Stalham High School head Melinda Derry apologised for causing offence when she answered an invitation to explain her 'derogatory' remarks to town councillors at their meeting last night.
But Ms Derry said she had evidence there were problems on Stalham Recreation Ground and had permanently excluded one student this year for drug dealing there.
She added: 'I'm not happy about closing my eyes to the issue. I don't think that makes it go away.'
Her controversial remarks were included in a regular school news bulletin in which Ms Derry said an increasing number of parents were contacting her with anxieties about the behaviour of young people on the rec.
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'I am afraid that there is little that the school can do, except to remind parents that under-age drinking, sex and the use of illegal drugs all take place there,' she wrote.
'It is of real concern that students as young as 11 have been offered drugs at the recreation ground.'
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Town council chairman Barry Mobbs told Ms Derry that councillors felt very offended that she had singled out the recreation ground as a source of problems.
Councillor Roy Woolsey, who has worked with youth in the town for many years, asked what evidence she had.
'I haven't found samples of drugs there and Paul Meale, who runs the youth club, says there is no evidence. He's quite upset,' he said.
It would be unrealistic to expect no under-age drinking took place on the rec but Mr Woolsey said there was 'not a terrific amount.'
Ms Derry, who has been at the school for three years, said students quite often came and told her about what they 'got up to' on the rec and she was very unhappy about what she learned.
She was also aware of text messages between a student and his friend which stated 'very clearly' that they were meeting on the rec and drugs were involved.
All incidents were reported to the police but Ms Derry said it was quite difficult to get the police to see dealing in cannabis quite as seriously as she saw it.
Councillors agreed with her that they wanted the rec to be a place where younger children could play in safety and wounds were healed when they arranged to meet senior school prefects to discuss concerns.
Ms Derry added that school students were: 'quite excited by the thought of me coming here to be told off.'