Teachers Council wants disciplinary proceedings to be open

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The Teachers Council is proposing rule changes that would make disciplinary tribunal proceedings open to the public, however the council said careful safeguards were needed to protect children and young people who gave evidence.

"This requires that appropriate suppression powers are provided to the tribunal,'' Teachers Council director Peter Lind said.

The tribunal needed suppression powers, and the same penalties for suppression breaches as apply under the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, he said.

"Such penalties need to be included in any amendments to the Education Act currently being proposed by the Minister of Education.

"So while the proposed rule changes are in accordance with the principle of open justice, the Teachers Council is seeking strong legislative protection from anyone who breaches any orders of the disciplinary tribunal,'' Dr Lind said.

The tribunal's practice of automatically suppressing names of teachers who are under complaint has been called into question.

In August, Parliament's regulations review committee held that the practice was not in line with the Education Act, which clearly intended proceedings to be generally open to the public.

This month the disciplinary tribunal broke with practice to name some teachers who were deregistered after being involved in high profile criminal cases.

It followed criticism from Education Minister Hekia Parata that the tribunal was too slow to act in cases where teachers had been convicted of serious offences.

Anyone can make a submission on the proposed rule changes. The process is outlined on the Teachers Council website, www.teacherscouncil.govt.nz.

- APNZ

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