Childcare worker wins payout over sacking

NZ Herald May 22, 2010

A childcare worker accused of physical violence against children has been compensated after her sacking was deemed unfair. But a family-focused lobby group has described the lengthy process that led to her sacking as a witchhunt. Teacher Mary Barratt was fired from Te Puna Reo o Wairaka, the Maori language early childhood centre at Unitec polytech in Mt Albert, late last year after allegations of rough handling of three children. This week, the Employment Relations Authority found that the investigation into her dismissal was not full and fair. Ms Barratt was alleged to have smacked one child, hit another across the head and threatened her own grandchild with smacking. The children were aged 2 to 5.

Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said the investigation was necessary, but anti-smacking legislation had created a culture of professional paranoia in dealing with children. He said the centre’s investigation became dramatic and unreasonable. He added that the reliance on hearsay and use of a child psychologist had threatened to turn the investigation into a witchhunt.