Tribunal breaks tradition to name two teachers in criminal cases

By Amelia Wade

Douglas Martin was sentenced to home detention for filming up the skirts of 17 girls and women.
Douglas Martin was sentenced to home detention for filming up the skirts of 17 girls and women.

In a rare move, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has named two teachers involved in high-profile criminal cases.

The decision comes after a parliamentary select committee ruled in August that the Teachers Council's practice of automatically suppressing the names of school staff complained about is not in accordance with the Education Act.

Last night, the council published two decisions on its website which named two teachers because of "the overwhelming public interest" in the cases. Both teachers' names had already been made public through court proceedings.

Douglas Haora Martin, former assistant principal of Lincoln High School in Christchurch, filmed up the skirts of 17 unsuspecting girls and women. He pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced in April to 10 months' home detention.

In its decision, the tribunal said it had no option but to both censure Martin and cancel his registration.

The other teacher named is former Rotorua deputy principal Glen Lovatt, who appeared before the tribunal for historic offences including sexual violation and indecent acts against young students. Those incidents occurred between 1995 and 1999 when Lovatt was a registered teacher at Selwyn Primary School.

He was sentenced to four years and three months' jail in 2011, but last year his sentence was lengthened by a further two years. The prosector who applied for the decision to be published in full said the main considerations were based on the public interest in knowing Lovatt's name, further complaints that might come forward as a result, ensuring a safe teaching environment and maintaining professional standards.

The tribunal could not cancel Lovatt's registration because it had expired, so ordered a censure and that the decision be published in full.

The tribunal is an independent arm of the Teachers Council.

Council director Dr Peter Lind said it was satisfied the decision to cancel Martin's registration was published in full and was pleased to see the full decision about Lovatt was published to ensure he "is not a future risk to students. These decisions show the robustness of the council's discipline process and demonstrate that the protection of the public and maintenance of the teaching profession are at the forefront of the disciplinary tribunal's processes."

Last year, the council said on its website it was illegal to publish details of complaints. The little-known rules have been in place since 2004.

The select committee's ruling came after the Herald on Sunday and Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler complained to Parliament's regulations review committee that the rules were suddenly being enforced.

It also recommended the Government consider amending the Education Act to specify explicitly that the proceedings be open to the public.

- NZ Herald

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