By day a teacher ... by night a prostitute

By Rachel Grunwell

An Auckland primary school teacher is moonlighting as a prostitute, throwing her school bosses into a quandary over her future.

The woman, a mother of two children in her 30s, is new to teaching and moonlights as a prostitute to boost her income.

The Herald on Sunday understands her principal was alerted to the situation by a student's parent.

It is understood the principal is now in a dilemma - prostitution is legal, but he is worried about the reaction of other parents and students if they find out about the teacher - and has referred the matter to the school's board of trustees.

The board will meet in committee shortly to debate whether it should ignore the issue, discipline the teacher or refer the matter to the Teachers' Council to judge.

The matter was raised at a recent Law Society seminar.

The teacher has apparently defended her situation to her principal, saying that what she did in her own time was of no concern to him, that it was a private matter, and that prostitution was now lawful and legitimate work. She told him her moonlighting job was not affecting her performance as a teacher.

She apparently told the principal he had no right to be the "moral police".

A source said the woman was considered to be a "good teacher".

Employment lawyer John Hannan said he had heard about the case and believed it was still unresolved.

He said schools could have policies to prevent teachers taking secondary jobs, or make sure that they first sought approval from their board.

But even if the board in this case did not have such policies, he believed it could still ask the teacher to quit prostitution and if she refused, it could threaten dismissal.

"It's a case of whether the outside employment is regarded as incompatible with the role of a teacher in terms of role-modelling and in terms of any policies that the board of trustees might have in place," he said.

Another employment lawyer, Patrick Walsh, who also knew of the case, said an issue like this had not been before the Teachers' Council so there would be no precedent for boards to follow.

He said the council could end up being involved if the school deemed the teacher's second job was "conduct that brings discredit to the profession".

Teachers' Council director Dr Peter Lind said the key issue was whether the teacher's second job was having an impact on her professional teaching duties "and there would have to be actual evidence".

He said principals and boards generally tried to resolve issues first. If problems escalated and remained unresolved then the Teachers' Council could be notified.

Prostitutes Collective national co-ordinator Catherine Healy said she knew of several teachers who worked in second jobs as prostitutes and they had every right to do so.

"There is no incompatibility between a woman who's a teacher and who works as a sex worker," she said. "I can't imagine what the problem would be."

She said if the school board needed questions answered about the industry, or advice, members were welcome to call her.

According to the primary and intermediate teachers' union, the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), the pay scale for primary teachers is generally between $42,600 and $66,000. Experienced teachers who took on increased responsibility could earn more on top of their basic salary.

Two years ago, an Auckland policewoman got into trouble with her employers after it was revealed she was moonlighting as a sex-worker at a top massage parlour.

She earned up to $500 a night working in the parlour, on top of taking home at least $43,000 a year as an officer.

Police bosses said at the time the secondary employment would never have been approved because that kind of work was seen to be inappropriate and incompatible with policing.

An investigation was carried out and the woman was able to keep her job in the police.

- Herald on Sunday

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