Accused teacher loses grievance case

Last updated 18:02 15/12/2013

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An Auckland teacher accused of calling pupils “slag”, “loser” and “prick” has had her personal grievance case dismissed.

Barbara McConnell, a teacher at Mount Roskill Grammar School, took her case before the Employment Relations Authority who ruled the school acted lawfully while dealing with the situation.

In September last year, McConnell was covering a music class of 30 year-nine students for another teacher.

During the class, several students alleged she called a female pupil “slag”, two boys “loser” and “prick”, mocked students’ names, made derogatory comments about ethnicities, said banding occurred by ethnicity, talked about suicide, suggested a student may be bashed and a teacher may be fired.

McConnell, who has taught at the school for more than 10 years, made some concessions but denied using the offensive language.

At their next class, the students involved told another teacher and principal Greg Watson confronted McConnell.

The decision was made she would work from home on full pay while the matter was investigated.

After two disciplinary meetings with the board of trustees over the following two weeks, McConnell was given a final written warning.

The board found she had used the language complained of.

While she was on leave, the board raised concerns about her “emailing and texting staff setting out her version of events and blaming a student whose parents she believed had complained”.

The board denied that student or his father had made any such complaint and it was revealed the boy in question was absent on the day of the incident.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled that the school acted within its powers to have McConnell work from home during the investigation and the written warning was warranted.

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- Fairfax Media

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