Teacher quits after affair with student

JO GILBERT
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2011

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A male maths teacher at the elite Rangi Ruru Girls' School has resigned after the school confronted him about his affair with a senior pupil.

Gerard Coulson, who is married to another teacher at the school and has children, quit last week over an affair last year with a year 13 girl aged 18.

Coulson, in his 40s, returned to teach at the school this term and was initially put on sick leave while the school investigated.

The affair, which is the talk of the private school, began in secret before the 2010 school year ended, sources told The Press. The pair went on a "break" together earlier this year despite the girl, who is now at university, having a fiancee at the time.

A mobile phone photograph of the pair in bed is believed to be circulating the school, with some pupils paying $2 to view it.

School management appear not to have known of the relationship until last week, but refused to give The Press details on the timing of their actions yesterday.

Sources said Coulson and the pupil "got close" in mid-2010 when they were both working on a school production, believed to be Oliver, in which Coulson played Mr Bumble. It developed into a physical relationship.

Coulson is thought to have been an able and popular teacher. Comments on the Rate My Teachers website are generally favourable and one says "he is bloody ***". The girl's Facebook site has a comment that "older men are hot as hell".

In an email, Rangi Ruru principal Julie Moor said the school "recently" became aware of rumours circulating about an "association" between a teacher and a now ex-pupil that began at the "end of last year".

She said it was believed the association had now finished.

Moor said yesterday a mandatory serious misconduct report about the teacher had been made to the Teachers' Council this week. Reports of serious misconduct are required to be made within seven days of the school learning of allegations.

Yesterday, council director Peter Lind said the body had not yet received the report from the school, but it "could well be" in the post.

Moor said the teacher had not been subject to disciplinary action as this was the council's responsibility.

"The school has investigated this matter and acted swiftly and appropriately," she said.

"The staff member has subsequently resigned from his position at Rangi Ruru.

"We understand that the staff member may not have acted illegally, but his behaviour is unacceptable and a breach of trust for our entire school community."

The teacher, originally from England, was unable to be contacted by The Press. It is understood he and his wife have separated.

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Lind said the Teachers' Council's code of ethics and legislation was clear about a teacher's involvement in "an inappropriate relationship" with a pupil.

Of the 81 published Teachers' Council disciplinary tribunal decisions since 2005, one third were for relationships with pupils. All but one of those cases involved sexual conduct or communication of a sexual nature between teachers and pupils.

Last December, Rape Prevention Education director Dr Kim McGregor told The Press the 27 inappropriate relationship cases dealt with by the tribunal since 2005 did not reflect reality. "These are just the tip of the iceberg, because students have told us they wouldn't feel confident in reporting it ... that they wouldn't be believed, and that they could be discredited or stigmatised," she said.

COUNCIL CASES

Inappropriate teacher-pupil relationship decisions dealt with by the Teachers' Council in 2010:

May: Married male teacher was deregistered after an 18-month sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female pupil.

June: Married male teacher who had an intimate relationship with a year 8 girl he called his "first true love" was deregistered.

August: Male teacher was deregistered after having a sexual relationship with a depressed 16-year-old female pupil.

October: Female teacher deregistered in Britain was censured in New Zealand for inappropriate sexual conduct with a male pupil and allowing pupils to drink in her home while she was employed in New Zealand.

December: A married male teacher was deregistered after he "counselled" a pupil who had been in an incestuous relationship by having sex with her in his car and on a classroom floor during school time.

December: Married male teacher was suspended for 12 months after he sent a male pupil unseemly text messages including "wakey, wakey hand off snakey".

Names and locations of teachers, pupils and schools are always removed from tribunal decision documents.

- The Press

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