Teacher deregistered after misconduct

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 16:31 10/03/2014

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A 40-year-old teacher who had a physical relationship with a vulnerable teenage student has been deregistered.

The relationship began in 2011 and continued until 2013, when the student, who was undergoing counselling after her friend committed suicide, told her counsellor, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal said in a decision released today.

The student was in year 11 when the relationship began, meaning she was likely 15. She was in year 13 when it ended. 

The student said she was scared of reporting the relationship, because of her part in initiating it and the effect it could have on the teacher.

She said their relationship involved hugging, cuddling and kissing which had progressed to fondling, digital penetration and oral sex.

The girl's parents then discovered electronic communications between her and the teacher, which they considered to contain elements of "predatory intent, grooming, manipulation, threat and censure", the tribunal decision said.

They complained to the school, which began an investigation.

When the teacher was interviewed, he said the relationship began when the student had asked him to become friends on Facebook.

They communicated online constantly, and shared information of intimate and personal issues, he said.

He shared details of his personal life, and told the student how he and his partner did not have sex.

He invited her to play guitar at an event. During the event, she was drinking, and on the way home, the relationship became physical.

The teacher said he felt "indebted" to her after that, and also felt she was vulnerable at times. He said they both had problems and were supporting each other, the tribunal said.

When the teacher met with the school board of trustees, he denied there had been any sexual connotation to the relationship.

The school charged the teacher with serious misconduct, and the board accepted his resignation.

The teacher did not contest the charges, and accepted he caused the student distress and emotional, social and academic harm.

Tribunal chairman Kenneth Johnston said the outcome was inevitable.

"A relationship of this sort between a teacher and a student is entirely unacceptable," he said.

The tribunal formally censured the teacher for serious misconduct, cancelled his teaching registration and ordered he pay $2012.65 in costs.

Names of the parties and the area in which the man taught were not released by the tribunal.

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- Fairfax Media

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