Repeat offender teacher escapes penalty

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 13:45 07/03/2014

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A teacher previously convicted of conspiring to supply a P-precursor drug has again escaped deregistration after being convicted of drink-driving.

The teacher, who was not named in the decision, failed to inform the Teachers Council of the new conviction.

She argued that she was suffering post-traumatic stress as she had found out three of her children were victims of Northland paedophile James Parker, former deputy principal of Pamapuria School.

In a decision released today, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal decided not to cancel her teaching registration but warned it was her "very last chance".

In 2012, the teacher was found driving with a reading of 607 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

She was disqualified from driving for six months and fined $200.

The teacher had been convicted in 2006 on a charge of conspiracy to supply a precursor substance to pseudoephedrine for the manufacture of P.

The Teachers Council had considered that conviction when she applied for a provisional teaching registration at the time, which was granted on the basis she would not reoffend.

This condition was removed in December 2007.

The council became aware of the new conviction only after it received the court documents.

The teacher said she could not take part in the disciplinary proceedings, but wrote a letter explaining her actions.

She worked in a home childcare setting, and she and her employer had "absolutely no idea" she was to inform the Teachers Council.

When she was contacted to arrange a meeting, it was about the time she found out three of her children had been sexually abused by Parker, she said.

"At this time I believed I started to exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress," she wrote.

"All the time that myself and my family were suffering through this I blocked out everything else that was negative in my life and it was this time that I received the letter from the teachers council [sic]," she wrote.

As a single mother of six, she could not attend the disciplinary proceedings as she did not have the money for a lawyer or to pay a fine, she said.

In his decision, tribunal chairman Kenneth Johnston said that while in previous cases a teacher convicted of even one drink-driving offence may be at risk of deregistration, this was not a case that would lead to that outcome.

Her previous offence had occurred seven years earlier, and she had complied with the obligations imposed on her at the time she obtained provisional registration, he said.

The earlier offending was also "materially different" from the recent drink-driving offence.

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"We received no evidence indicating that the respondent presents a threat to the public or to school-age children," he said.

He warned if she were to reoffend, she was unlikely to emerge with her registration.

"This really must be a very last chance for the respondent," he said.

- Stuff

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