Criminals in our classrooms

Sunday Star Times 29/08/2010
Convicted criminals are teaching in New Zealand classrooms and Education Minister Anne Tolley has ordered an inquiry. Teachers have remained in our classrooms despite convictions for indecent assault on a student, threatening to kill, assault on a female and other acts of violence. Tolley has ordered an investigation, saying the safety of students must take priority, and that she is in discussions with the Teachers Council. “The safety and wellbeing of students must be a priority for everyone involved in education,” she said. The council investigates all complaints about teacher behaviour and competency – from parents and schools – and looks into all teachers convicted of an offence punishable by more than three months in prison. In the last two years, 58 teachers have self-reported such a conviction to the council, including:
* A teacher convicted of indecent assault against a teenage girl aged 14-16, in 2006. Sentenced to 200 hours’ community work last year, he has full registration, subject to conditions.
* A male convicted of assault with a blunt instrument and male assaults female. He was fined $2000 and sentenced to 100 hours’ community work and also maintained full registration.
* A male teacher convicted of possession of an objectionable publication is yet to be sentenced. He has full registration.
* A teacher who was convicted of threatening to kill, and male assaults female, and sentenced to 300 hours’ community work and six months’ supervision, was granted registration but his practising certificate is pending.
* A female convicted of grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard, and wounding with reckless disregard in 2008 was registered, but her practising certificate is also pending.