Deported teacher told to pay school $10,000

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A former Wellington teacher who was dismissed and deported after a "catch 22" of stalled investigations has to pay $10,000 in legal costs to the school that sacked him.

British immigrant Dominic Speed, 41, lost his job as an economics teacher at Wellington Girls' College after the Teachers Council declined an extension of his practising licence while it carried out an investigation.

He was deported last July after Immigration New Zealand said he could only stay if he had a job.

Mr Speed had faced a string of charges including assault, disorderly behaviour and intimidation - charges he was later acquitted of or had withdrawn.

Police raised questions about Mr Speed's character when he applied to renew his practising licence in April 2010, which led the Teachers Council to investigate.

Meanwhile, the school launched its own investigation after it became aware Mr Speed was facing charges.

The Teachers Council decided to take no further action against Mr Speed last June - but by then, the school had already dismissed Mr Speed because he did not have a licence.

Mr Speed took his case to the Employment Relations Authority, claiming unjustified dismissal and unfair disadvantage.

The authority noted Mr Speed was caught in a "catch 22" between the school's disciplinary process and the Teachers Council investigation - but found the school was legally obliged to dismiss him for not having a practising certificate.

Now the authority has ordered Mr Speed to pay $10,000 to the school's board of trustees to cover its costs at the two-day hearing.

Mr Speed argued the authority itself had noted his situation was a "catch 22" which was not entirely of his own making.

The stakes were very high and he was never given a fair hearing on the allegations leading to his dismissal and deportation.

Wellington Girls' College sought full costs of more than $18,000, noting its success at the hearing and a $3000 settlement offer which Mr Speed had rejected.

Authority member Greg Wood said Mr Speed had directly met additional costs of video conferencing, but also noted the settlement offer had been rejected.

A costs award of $6000-7000 was appropriate, but Mr Speed was ultimately ordered to pay $10,000 to take account of the $3000 offer he rejected.

- APNZ

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