Sunderland headteacher who angered Bangladeshi community with coronavirus letter is 'not currently in school'
A headteacher who angered a Bangladeshi community with a “distasteful” letter about coronavirus is “not currently in school”, it has emerged.
Karen Todd, the head of Sunderland’s Richard Avenue Primary School, last month issued a personal apology just 24 hours after claiming that the behaviour of “a number of families” was exposing staff, pupils and relatives to an increased threat of contracting Covid-19.
Her first letter said adults needed to “wake up” after allegedly taking part in a series of “against the law” activities and added: “I feel totally let down by a small element of the Bangladeshi community.”
An investigation was launched and the school’s governing body quickly stressed that it was “listening to concerns raised by parents” following a barrage of criticism.
Now it has emerged that Mrs Todd is absent from school and that the then chair of the governing body, Rebecca Evans, has resigned.
Mrs Evans’ replacement, Craig Hilton, has said in a December 16 letter to pupils’ families: “Mrs Todd, headteacher, is not currently in school and I would like to take this opportunity to confirm the school leadership arrangements in place during her ongoing absence.
"Miss Walker, senior assistant headteacher, is covering the headteacher’s responsibilities during the absence.”
The letter goes on to say: “These arrangements will remain in place as long as they are required.”
It is not yet known why Mrs Evans stood down earlier this month or whether Mrs Todd’s absence is connected to the inquiry.
Together for Children, which delivers education services across the city for Sunderland City Council, said it was unable to comment while the investigation was ongoing.
Mrs Todd’s list of “against the law” activities included mehndi nights - where Asian brides meet with friends before marriages - weddings and other social gatherings.
Sunderland’s Bangladesh International Centre received hundreds of complaints about her “distasteful” remarks and questioned why she had apparently singled out an individual community.
Richard Avenue was rated as “good” – the second highest of four grades – when it received its last full Ofsted inspection in 2014.
Inspectors said “pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is exceptional”, adding: “Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.”