Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

P importer remains on teachers list

Hekia Parata. Photo / David White
Hekia Parata. Photo / David White

A childhood worker remains registered as a teacher despite pleading guilty to importing methamphetamine.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has sought assurances on the case just a week after ordering an urgent review of how the Teachers Council deregisters teachers with serious convictions.

Ms Parata had called for commonsense to prevail over bureaucracy after it was revealed convicted paedophile James Parker and other sex offenders were still listed as registered teachers.

Last week, Haley Carol Jacobs, 37, pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to a representative charge of importing methamphetamine.

Jacobs, who worked at an early childhood learning centre, was caught when Customs intercepted a package from her South Africa homeland which contained 8g of the class A drug.

The Teachers Council maintains the register of teachers, which notes any disciplinary action taken.

The Early Childhood Council, which represents more than 1100 early childhood centres, told the Herald the registration of Jacobs was disappointing.

Chief executive Peter Reynolds said it was the latest in a number of incidents in which the council had dragged its heels.

"The Teachers Council is supposed to secure the integrity of the qualifications system. It is supposed to guide early childhood centres as to who is, and who is not, an appropriate teacher.

"And it is supposed to be a key component of a system designed to protect children from those who might pose a danger to them."

However, Teachers Council chief executive Peter Lind said its hands were tied in terms of how quickly action could be taken against Jacobs.

The case had been referred to a complaints committee and a note on the register indicating a disciplinary process was added on Wednesday.

The ECC had called for that to be done sooner, but Mr Lind said that no annotation could be made until the committee had met, which happened on Wednesday.

"Since 2005, when the Disciplinary Tribunal heard its first case, there have been no breaches of somebody who had been referred to the tribunal and has then breached conditions such as practising to teach."

Ms Parata said her office had contacted the Teachers Council and been assured the situation would be resolved quickly.

"I have asked officials to work with the New Zealand Teachers Council as a matter of urgency to identify all of the outstanding issues with the current disciplinary functions which can be addressed through legislative reform."

Jacobs has been remanded on bail and will be sentenced on November 20.

Parker has been censured and his registration cancelled, according to a Teachers Council decision out Wednesday.

- NZ Herald

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