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Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Principal to face hearing for failing to declare relationship

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A school principal who was in a sexual relationship with a staff member is to face a Teachers Tribunal disciplinary hearing for failing to declare a conflict of interest when the teacher was being investigated for assaulting a student.

The principal, whose name was suppressed, has been accused of serious misconduct by the Complaints Assessment Committee.

The committee said the woman failed to declare her "very close friendship and sexual relationship" with the resident director of the school, who was also not named, "sometime before September 2007 and December 2007".

It has accused her of 10 actions amounting to misconduct in her dealings with the man, including signing off on his growing phone bill which included calls to the TAB, and declaring him fit to practice despite being aware of a Child Youth and Family investigation into assault.

The woman asked the tribunal to dismiss the charge against her because the committee had failed to comply with natural justice, and delays in hearing the case were "inordinate".

Tribunal chairman Kenneth Johnston said the woman had asked for the charge to be dismissed without going into the merits of her reasons.

Mr Johnston said the tribunal could not review the committee's proceeding to determine whether the charge had been properly laid.

The High Court was the proper venue for such a review, he said.

Mr Johnston ordered for a hearing into the accusations she faced.

Accusations against the principal:

* signed the staff member's application for a renewal of his practising certificate and declared him fit to practise when she was aware of a CYFs investigation into alleged assault;

* failed to appropriately monitor his excessive use of his cellphone and payments of his phone accounts authorised by the school, which included frequent calls to the TAB;

* failed to declare a conflict of interest to her employer, when she realised CYFs was investigating the man;

* despite the known conflict of interest, the woman inappropriately started an investigation into the allegation that the man had inappropriately manhandled a child by reviewing camera footage, reading an incident report and speaking to witnesses;

* from her investigation, she inappropriately determined he should not be suspended or restricted in any way other than removing him from direct contact with the student concerned;

* failed to suspend the man or take appropriate advice on his suspension when he was arrested in December 2007 for assault on a student;

* attempted to get the man's legal costs paid through the school's insurance policy;

* sent a copy of the student's incident report summary to the lawyer acting for the man without permission from either the student's parents or her employer;

* continued to approve payment of an extra $1000 per month to the man during the period of their relationship, despite the terms of the payment not being complied with or without declaring a conflict of interest; and

* between July 1, 2005 and September 30, 2005, and again between January 1, 2006 and December 19, 2007, failed to ensure that appropriate financial practices were followed by authorising payments of $1000 per month to the man over and above his salary.

- NZ Herald

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