An Auckland childcare teacher has been deregistered and ordered to pay $31,000 in costs after her "rough physical treatment'' of children and staff alike amounted to serious misconduct.
Natasha Joy Ashton, of Manukau, had been working at The Children's Corner Papatoetoe early childhood centre for 18 years when she was promoted to the role of centre manager in July, 2013.
Two years after her promotion, allegations arose about her conduct. As a result, a mandatory report was made to the Education Council.
The allegations against Ashton were then brought to the Council's Complaints Assessment Committee's attention and investigated before the matter was passed on to the NZ Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal.
Its report said after hearing all the evidence, the Tribunal found that during her time at the centre, Ashton engaged in rough physical treatment and psychological abuse of children and ill-treatment of children.
"Witnesses stated that she was disrespectful and unprofessional in her treatment of staff, including physical ill-treatment and threats of dismissal and using racially offensive language.
"They also discovered she had dubious financial record-keeping and lied to providers of professional development.''
At a four-day hearing about the case, allegations made by staff members and witnesses were extensive and detailed.
"She hit children and/or directed staff to hit children harder ... she put food that children had spat out, including when it had fallen on the floor, back into children's mouths.
"She made racist comments such as 'bloody Indians' or 'coconuts' or 'bloody PIs' (referring to Pacific Islanders) and/or asked inappropriate questions about the sex life of parents such as: 'Is he good in bed'?"
Other evidence given included that she hit staff members with objects, threatened to have them fired and on one occasion, had a staff member stand facing a corner.
She also engaged in the psychological abuse of children, the hearing heard, forbidding some to go to sleep and once told staff not to change a boy who had wet his pants.
The daycare's owner and a director, Barry Cornelius, requested that the name of the daycare be suppressed as revealing it publicly may be financially detrimental to the centre.
The Tribunal decided against it.
Ashton also requested permanent name suppression, but the Tribunal ruled against it; noting that there was public interest in her being identified, as other centre staff may be wrongly suspected of having been the perpetrators of the misconduct.
Ashton has been censured, her registration cancelled and ordered that the register be annotated.
She is ordered to pay $20,000 towards the CAC's costs and a total of $11,000 towards the Tribunal's costs.