Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Teacher censured for slapping student

The student was upset but was not injured by the slap. Photo / Thinkstock
The student was upset but was not injured by the slap. Photo / Thinkstock

A high school teacher who slapped a student's head during a tussle over a pen has been censured by the Teachers Council.

The science teacher - who, along with the school and student, was not named by the council's disciplinary tribunal - said he acted instinctively after losing an eye during a traumatic incident when he was younger.

The tribunal heard two students involved in the tussle had their hands grasped around a red pen, which they were pulling on.

The teacher, who was crouched down at the time, saw the pen's ink ball pointing towards his face and coming towards him rapidly.

He instinctively stood up, struck the student over the back of his head with an open hand, and said something like, "If you do that again, I will give you another one."

The student was upset but was not injured.

The school launched a disciplinary investigation, and the teacher resigned.

The tribunal heard the respondent had a prosthetic right eye as a result of a workshop accident when he was younger, in which a screwdriver head slashed across the front of his eye, cutting the cornea and removing part of the lens.

A psychologist's report found although the teacher could not recall details of the earlier incident, it had caused him to react automatically when he saw the pen moving towards his face.

The tribunal formally censured the teacher for serious misconduct, ordered him to inform prospective employers of its decision for a period of one year, and to contribute towards costs.

- APNZ

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