Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Hamilton teacher kissed and touched children

Colin Shannon has had his teacher registration cancelled. Photo / iStock
Colin Shannon has had his teacher registration cancelled. Photo / iStock

A teacher who kissed a child on the forehead and patted children on the arms and shoulders has been struck off after repeated warnings to maintain appropriate distances from the pupils.

One girl told a volunteer at Aberdeen School in Hamilton that she had "boy germs" every day because Colin Shannon touched her and kissed some students on the forehead.

In a decision by the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal, Shannon admitted the serious misconduct, which followed a string of complaints dating back nine years.

Staff and parents at the school first raised concerns about Shannon in 2007 after which the principal, Murray McDonald, issued the teacher with a formal instruction against over-familiar conduct.

In 2010 an allegation was made to police that Shannon was seen naked in his backyard but he denied it and police did not lay any charges.

In August of that year a parent told the principal they did not want their child in Shannon's class because they knew he would be alone with girls in the classroom during interval.

Further allegations that Shannon was seen walking around the school linking arms with girls and with their hands in his pockets could not be proved.

But Shannon was investigated by the school board of trustees in 2011 and issued a final warning in September that year.

As part of a censure he was placed under supervision for two years, which included observation periods each week, requirements that testing of children took place with another adult present and that his classroom be rearranged so he was visible at all times.

He was removed from playground duties, and was not allowed to be alone with any child in the classroom or permitted to be with fewer than three students.

In 2014 a former parent of the school claimed Shannon made their daughter sit on his knee during class time, but he denied the allegation.

Later that year Shannon was seen sitting in an obscured part of the library so close to a female student that their bodies were touching.

Shannon told the tribunal it was a mistake not being on a chair in the library by himself but that his primary thought was for the learning of the children.

He said he would not sit down beside students but rather they would sit beside him and that he had changed his teaching strategies so it was as difficult as possible for any physical contact to occur with pupils.

His main priority was to "ensure students were learning, motivated and interested".

But Shannon's registration was cancelled and he was ordered to pay more than $2300 in costs to the tribunal.

- NZ Herald

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