Teacher's strange illness

By Kathryn Powley

Council looks into claims about teacher's behaviour and a mystery illness.

Jackie White worked at Pinehurst School in Albany and then Avondale College. Photo / Supplied
Jackie White worked at Pinehurst School in Albany and then Avondale College. Photo / Supplied

A teacher from an exclusive Auckland school is subject to a Teachers Council investigation, understood to be over a mystery illness and claims she behaved inappropriately with a student.

Jacqueline White, known as Jackie, left her job as senior college headmistress of Pinehurst School in December after spending five months on sick leave because of a serious illness.

She also worked briefly at the beginning of this term as deputy principal at Avondale College before resigning through ill-health.

The Herald on Sunday has confirmed White is subject to a Teachers Council disciplinary tribunal investigation after parents complained.

"This case is currently before the complaints assessment committee," council director Dr Peter Lind said.

Pinehurst School executive principal Sherida Penman Walters said White was appointed to Pinehurst in November 2009.

"She came to us with excellent references from her previous schools, which were St Peter's College and ACG Senior College. Last year in July, Ms White informed us of a serious illness and was given extended leave. She resigned on December 12 last year."

Asked whether that illness was said to be terminal, Penman Walters said: "She asked for all details of that to be kept completely private."

Asked whether she now understood that illness to be fictitious, she said: "Subsequent to her resignation, further matters have come to light which are currently being investigated through a formal authority, and as such we are unable to comment on those matters."

As to whether there were concerns about how White had treated students, she would not comment.

"Only after her resignation did anything untoward come to light so we were just concerned to support her during her illness."

Parents were aware that White was on leave, that she had resigned and had been replaced.

Avondale College principal Brent Lewis wouldn't comment on the allegations but confirmed White briefly served as deputy principal there.

"She was appointed and then she resigned on health grounds," he said.

"She commenced before school started and left the first week students were there [this term]."

An accomplished public speaker and considered an expert in the Cambridge International Programme, White was appointed to Pinehurst with much fanfare.

A press release from the school titled "High expectations for new head of Pinehurst senior college" said White would oversee all students and staff from Years 10-13.

In the release Penman Walters had said: "We are thrilled with the appointment of Ms White and believe her in-depth experience with implementing and teaching Cambridge programmes at the senior secondary level will greatly benefit Pinehurst. Her expertise and reputation within New Zealand education in general, and the Cambridge system in particular, is outstanding."

- Herald on Sunday

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