Disciplined teacher allowed to stay in classroom

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A teacher who reprimanded pupils by pulling ears and tapping their hands with a ruler, has been allowed to stay in the classroom after completing anger management classes - but two other teachers have been struck off in Teachers' Council disciplinary decisions released today.

The female teacher who kept her job was the subject of six complaints from parents between 2005 and 2011. All involved allegations of inappropriate discipline.

The woman, whose name or school cannot be published for legal reasons, pinched, pulled ears, slapped heads, pulled boys by their trousers, shouted at pupils "inappropriately", roughly pulled kids across the classroom, and tapped kids' hands with a ruler, the council's disciplinary tribunal heard.

The woman had denied the allegations, but chose not to take part in the tribunal process.

Her school principal, while not condoning her classroom control methods, stood by her.

The principal said the remorseful woman had been having domestic troubles at home at the time, but had since moved out of her matrimonial home and was now "more relaxed and calm".

She had also gone to professional development sessions in a bid to "get things right".

"I consider she is a gentle soul, is a good reliever, and is open and easy to talk to," the principal said.

"The school is happy to continue support of [the teacher] which it might not so readily have been willing to do with teachers of a different character who had accumulated [her] unfortunate list of reported incidents. I believe she had learnt her lesson."

The disciplinary tribunal agreed.

In a ruling out today, it said the incidents did not amount to serious assaults.

But it did point to the Education Act 1989, which prohibits any form of corporal punishment or physical discipline.

"Furthermore, in this case, the respondent was responsible for very young children.

"Plainly, it was the respondent's view that physical chastisement was an appropriate form of discipline."

But on "careful consideration ... by a fairly fine margin" the tribunal did not think the teacher deserved to be struck off the teacher's register.

Instead, it ordered her to complete an accredited anger management court, and for her to be formally censured for serious misconduct.

She was also ordered to pay half of the council's Complaints Assessment Committee's costs.

Two male teachers, meanwhile, have been struck off.

One, an experienced teacher who completed his training in 1968, has been banned after admitting inappropriate touching of 9-year-old girls in his class.

The teacher, now a bus driver, sought voluntary deregistration after accepting that by touching, hugging, putting his arm around girls and making contact with bare midriffs, he should no longer be a teacher.

Another male primary teacher who pleaded guilty at an unnamed district court to assaulting two young children, relatives who were in his care, was also deregistered.

The teacher claimed the assaults, which included smacking their hands with a wooden spoon and a stick, was done "out of love" and he was just disciplining them.

- APNZ

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