Tribunal: Principal should have acted earlier on concerns over James Parker

By APN

Stephen Hovell
Stephen Hovell

If the principal of the Far North school where paedophile teacher James Parker preyed on pupils had acted on concerns over his behaviour, his prolific offending might have been halted earlier than it was, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal says.

The council has censured former Pamapuria School principal Stephen Hovell over his lack of action when it became apparent Parker was inappropriately having boys sleeping over at his home. Mr Hovell was brought before the tribunal by the Teachers Council Complaints Assessment Committee.

The council accused Mr Hovell of not investigating a letter by a principal from a different school to the Teachers Registration Board in 1999 that said Parker would take boys home, shower with them and sleep with them "marae style", a tribunal report said.

It also said that following a police investigation into Parker in 2009, Mr Hovell would have been specifically made aware that Parker slept in close proximity of the boys who slept at his home.

A letter was sent to Mr Hovell by police after the investigation, which strongly urged the practice of students sleeping at the deputy principal's house to stop, the report said. The council told the tribunal that after receiving the police letter, at no time did Mr Hovell direct Parker to stop the practice.

Nor did he put in place any process to monitor Parker's behaviour. However, the tribunal said Mr Hovell would not have prevented Parker from committing sexual offences altogether.

Mr Hovell was guilty of serious misconduct, the tribunal said in the report.
The tribunal said it hoped the publication of the report would bring closure to the "sad episode" for Pamapuria, Kaitaia and Northland, "but most particularly for the children who have been affected by Parker's criminal offending".

Parker was sentenced in the High Court in August last year to preventive detention after admitting 74 sex charges relating to sleepovers with boys at his Awanui farm between 1999 and 2012.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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