Teacher created a 'horrific environment'

By Patrice Dougan

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A teacher at a now defunct Auckland residential school created a "truly horrific environment" for pupils, including threatening to cut off boys' penises, forcing students to cut grass with scissors, and holding them under the shower as punishments, a Teachers Council decision reveals.

The teacher, who was at the disgraced Waimokoia School between 2004 and 2008, was found to have acted threateningly towards staff as well as pupils, many of whom were subject to racist and humiliating insults, including calling Maori students "black c****", and others "little sh**s".

His litany of abuses is listed over 17 pages of the Teachers Council's professional misconduct decision, which concluded the teacher ran a "terrifying and unhealthy environment for students", adding it was certain some former pupils would have suffered "a long-lasting detrimental effect on their lives".

The teacher ran a "regime" which was "nothing short of chilling", the council's disciplinary tribunal said, adding it "cannot condemn [his] behaviour strongly enough".

He was one of four teachers at scandal-hit Waimokoia School - which closed in January 2010 following a raft of physical and sexual abuse allegations - who went on trial for abuses during their time at the residential facility for troubled youths.

The Teachers Council disciplinary tribunal, in its report into allegations of serious misconduct by the teacher, found he had forced students to carry logs uphill, to cut grass with scissors, and had forced students out of bed at 5am for punishment exercise or chores while still in their pyjamas, threatened and poked pupils with a piece of wood, and mis-used a 'time-out' room by keeping pupils in seclusion for hours on end, sometimes overnight and sometimes while still wet from a forced shower.

In other incidents he forced a pupil to strip to his boxer shorts as a form of discipline, and another pupil was made to stand on a chair in the gym and told "you know, there are some people who believe your penis should be cut off for that".

Physical abuse, such as kicking, lifting and throwing, was also revealed, as were incidents of physical restraint, including one case where he sat on a pupil to teach him a lesson about picking on other children.

Another pupil, aged around 8 or 9-years-old, who complained of a sore stomach, was reportedly told to "shut his mouth or he would be given a sore stomach", evidence to the tribunal said.

In is decision, the disciplinary tribunal said it was "satisfied on the evidence that ... [the teacher] was responsible for the creation of the atmosphere of fear within Waimokoia".

The teacher was censured and de-registered for serious misconduct.

- APNZ

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