Teacher censured over porn use

Last updated 12:09 27/05/2014

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A teacher who allowed students to use a computer on which he had watched pornography has been censured for serious misconduct.

The teacher told the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal he had got into the habit of watching sports during the evening on the computer, which was owned by the school and allocated to him.

"Periodically, pop-up advertisements for pornographic material appeared on the screen," tribunal chairman Kenneth Johnston said in a decision published today.

"He (the teacher) was quite open in saying to us that he got into the regular habit of viewing this material."

The teacher also said that at the time he had been drinking a considerable amount of alcohol and in his drunken state "one site tended to lead to another".

Two female students using the laptop for research in March 2013 stumbled on the teacher's internet history and reported it to the principal.

The teacher said he had not accessed any of the pornographic material while at school. He maintained students would not have been able to access pornographic sites while using his computer at school because the school's server blocked access to such sites.

"Nevertheless he had to accept he exposed students to some degree of risk," the decision said.

At the tribunal in March, this year the teacher said that after the school investigated the incident and he resigned, he had decided to stop drinking and now did not use a computer. He was working as a courier.

"He continued by telling us that he believes, despite everything, that he was a capable teacher, and that he wants to return to the classroom," the tribunal decision said.

"He told us that he regrets bitterly his former drinking and what that led to."

As well as censuring the teacher, the tribunal ordered the decision be noted in the teachers' register and ordered the teacher to pay $1909 costs.

The material accessed by the teacher was pornographic, but not obscene in the technical sense, the decision said.

There was no reason to doubt he was a capable teacher and a serious minded person who faced up to his weaknesses and was doing everything within his power to turn his life around.

"In the end this is one of a rare number of cases in which the tribunal feels it can be satisfied that the respondent has received a real wake-up call and has reacted in a positive way."

He had suffered significant consequences as a result of the misconduct, both personally and professionally.

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