Frances Cook is a Wellington based multimedia reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Teacher accused of vendetta against student, telling colleague 'you're fat and ugly'

Paul Raymond Northwood has now been censured and struck off. Photo / 123RF.
Paul Raymond Northwood has now been censured and struck off. Photo / 123RF.

A teacher has been struck off after facing a raft of charges, including accusations he tried to provoke a student to punch him.

And when accusations were put to the teacher, he allegedly told the chairwoman of the school board she was "fat and ugly".

Paul Raymond Northwood was a teacher at Manunui School in Taumarunui, until he was brought in front of the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal on two charges.

The first was an accusation that Northwood deliberately tried to undermine a student's education, after deciding the student was trouble.

The Year 8 boy had been expelled from his previous school for having "significant challenging behaviours", but had been promised a fresh start at Manunui.

In the student's first week, it's alleged Northwood said "give me one week with the boy and I'll get rid of him".

Northwood denies the allegation.

In the last two weeks of term, Northwood allegedly provoked the student into threatening to punch him.

The deputy principal said Northwood admitted the provocation to her, saying "I set that up".

Northwood told the tribunal the allegation wasn't true.

The second charge he faced was for breaching his ethical responsibilities as a teacher, particularly in relation to how he treated his colleagues.

In 2014, the Manunui School Board of Trustees chairwoman hand-delivered a letter to Northwood's home, to inform him of complaints against him.

The chairwoman told the tribunal that when Northwood read the letter he began pacing the room, becoming "angry and abusive".

She wasn't sure of the exact words used, but she remembered him saying "you're a fat and ugly person", "you'll pay for this", and "you're a puppet".

In a later email that was sent to several colleagues and the Ministry of Education, he referred to a NZSTA adviser as "that fat lady in the red costume from NZSTA".

The tribunal found Northwood's behaviour amounted to serious misconduct.

It ruled that the allegations Northwood tried to provoke a student into punching him were unfounded.

However, it found he did try to compromise the student's relationship with his mentor, by telling the mentor the student was "a liar, a bully, and a thief".

The tribunal's decision included a criticism of Northwood for having a lack of insight or remorse, which it said put students and colleagues at risk.

Northwood was censured, his teacher registration cancelled, and was ordered to pay 50 per cent of the costs of the disciplinary process.

- NZ Herald

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