Teachers are professionals and don't have the right to hit anyone, Rotorua Principals Association president Rawiri Wihapi says.
He is commenting after the Disciplinary Tribunal released its decision this week relating to longstanding Rotorua teacher Val Cooney.
Cooney, 79, has been censured for serious misconduct for two incidents relating to students at John Paul College in October and December 2017 where she slapped one child and pushed another.
Cooney no longer teaches at John Paul College but vows she wants to continue teaching as she's had an unblemished career for nearly 60 years.
She is currently working part-time on a fixed-term basis at Rotorua Girls' High School.
Wihapi told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday he was surprised Cooney didn't lose her teaching registration.
He said, in his opinion, it was not appropriate that she continued to teach.
"We don't have the right to hit anyone. It doesn't matter if a child gets under our skin, we are professionals and we don't have a right to do that. I can't believe they are still allowing her to teach. It doesn't seem right," he said, expressing his view on the matter.
Wihapi said part of Cooney's desire to continue teaching was her pride as she had stated she wanted to end her career on a high.
"No matter what, she will have the onus of this behind her."
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Teacher censured for slapping student, pushing another
In response to his comments, Cooney said the issue of her continuing to teach was dealt with by the tribunal and it had ruled she was justified to carry on.
She said as far as she was concerned that was the end of the matter.
Teaching Council of Aotearoa chief executive Lesley Hoskin said children and young people deserved to be safe in all learning environments and parents must be confident that violent behaviour towards children was unacceptable.
"Teachers have an incredibly difficult job. Situations arise where teachers are faced with very difficult or challenging behaviour in children and young people and must use their professional judgement in the moment."
She said teachers were human, fragile, vulnerable and imperfect.
"The wider teaching profession, the public, parents, whānau, children and young people hold teachers to high standards because of their very important role and the impact they have on children and society."
She said using physical restraint or force on a child was always a last resort and should only be used to keep people safe from harm.
When asked what a good age was for a teacher to retire, Hoskin said many stayed in the job because of their love for the work but there were many steps they needed to complete to have an up-to-date practising certificate to teach.
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh was approached for comment but instead, the school sent a statement on behalf of the school's Board of Trustees.
In it, chairman Jean-Paul Gaston said student safety was an "absolute priority".
Gaston said in the statement he was satisfied the college followed "due process" with all parties legally represented.
"The board and staff of John Paul College give absolute priority to student safety.
"The board fully accepts and respects the decision of the New Zealand Teaching Council."
A spokeswoman from the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association said they didn't comment on individual cases.
However, she said the association did not support violence against children in any way.
"The PPTA was at the forefront of the campaign to remove corporal punishment from schools and continue to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children and teachers alike," she said.
Meanwhile, Cooney told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday she had been overwhelmed with support.
"I am really grateful for the amazing support I have received from pupils, ex-pupils, parents, friends and family. Everyone has been so kind and I have received some incredible tributes. Thank you everyone."
The Disciplinary Tribunal's decision
The decision said Cooney was often used at John Paul College to help other teachers when they were having difficulty with managing students' difficult behaviour.
On October 25, 2017, three students were sent to her class because of their disruptive behaviour. While she was dealing with them, one of the students started to laugh and Cooney thought he was laughing at her. Cooney slapped the student across his cheek and the student started to cry.
Cooney said she immediately regretted her actions and apologised to the student in the presence of another staff member. She engaged in a restorative justice meeting with the student and his family.
Cooney thought the matter was resolved and would not be taken further, the decision said, but the school initiated an employment disciplinary process.
On December 4, Cooney was teaching folk dancing and took exception to a student's unco-operative behaviour and unwillingness to find a female dance partner.
She put her hand on the student's shoulder and pushed him towards the girls in the class. The student pulled away and told Cooney to "get stuffed".
Cooney acknowledged the seriousness of both incidents and expressed remorse for her actions.
She said she was under stress at the time of both incidents by having the responsibility of disciplining students referred to her by other teachers and on a personal level by dealing with her husband's illness.
Her penalty is she is censured, a finding of serious misconduct is recorded and Cooney was told to undergo professional development in regards to classroom discipline and stress management. A stand-down period was not required. She was ordered to pay costs of $458.