Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Teacher fabricated counsellor's existence

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A teacher who was in danger of losing his registration after drink-driving convictions fabricated the existence of a counsellor to keep his job and then said she had fled the country when his story began to unravel.

Following an investigation, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal cancelled the teacher's registration and ordered him to pay costs of nearly $6000.

The teacher, who has name suppression, also created documents from the counsellor, which gave glowing reports on his progress in understanding his offending, a report from the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal said.

His ruse began about July, 2009, following drink driving convictions, when he submitted a false letter to the Teachers Council claiming to be from the counsellor, noting her qualifications in clinical psychology and that he had been undergoing counselling with her.

In October, 2009, he was censured for the convictions by the council's Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) who allowed for his teaching registration to be processed because of the counselling sessions, the tribunal said.

"The CAC was persuaded by the evidence from (the counsellor) and that the respondent appeared to have learnt a lot about himself through counselling and the stresses that caused the offending," the tribunal said.

The teacher continued to sent false reports into his progress with counselling and ongoing monitoring to the council.

In January, 2012, a council staff member called a number apparently belonging to the counsellor, but was told by a woman the counsellor was unavailable.

That woman was the teacher's cousin, who he had asked to pretend to work for the counsellor, the tribunal said.

The following month, "in a telephone conversation with a staff member (the teacher) untruthfully said (the counsellor) had fled the country", the tribunal said.

A private investigator interviewed the teacher and his cousin and it was discovered the counsellor had been fabricated.

The tribunal said it had "not been seriously troubled in reaching a conclusion" in disciplinary action against the teacher.

"...the respondent's behaviour amounts to serious misconduct, and that the appropriate outcome is a censure and cancellation of the respondent's registration."

It also ordered him to pay $5968.85 in costs.

Meanwhile, a grandmother, whose name was suppressed, who had amassed four drink driving convictions since 1984, and was caught driving while disqualified, has also been censured and had her teaching licence cancelled.

Her convictions came to light when she attempted to renew her licence in 2012.

She had convictions for drink driving in 1984, 1997, 2000 and 2011. In the 2011 incident, the woman also gave a fake identity to authorities.

Later that year, she was caught driving on a disqualified licence.

She told the tribunal she was on a "mercy dash" taking food to her grandchildren because their parents were not working at the time and were not yet eligible for a social welfare benefit.

"I make no excuses for my actions, but I was more concerned for my grand-children and their well-being rather than my own," she told the tribunal.

The tribunal said the woman had a "woeful criminal record, which could hardly be benefiting any teacher".

It said it could not allow the woman to retain her registration.

- APNZ

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