Violence, careless driving causing death or injury,
excess blood-alcohol while driving, and driving while impaired
have left 11 teachers with criminal convictions in Otago during
2012 - the highest number for more than 20 years.
The previous high was in 2010 when eight teachers received
convictions on pornography, dishonesty or alcohol and drug
Since 1992, 46 Otago teachers received convictions for crimes
covering dangerous driving causing death or injury, drugs,
alcohol, violence, pornography and sexual offending.
Figures released by the New Zealand Teachers' Council under
the Official Information Act revealed the 2012 total alone
made up almost a quarter of the convictions recorded against
teachers in the past 20 years.
New Zealand Teachers' Council director Peter Lind said the
information provided related to teachers in Otago at the time
the offences leading to the convictions were committed.''
Please note, these teachers may no longer be teaching in the
region, or be teaching at all.''
As a result of convictions, five teachers had been struck off
the teaching register since 1992; three in the 1990s for
convictions of a sexual nature, one in 2005 for drug and
alcohol convictions and one in 2010 for a pornography
offence, Dr Lind said.
While no teachers were struck off the teaching register for
convictions in Otago in 2012, Dr Lind said 15 teachers were
struck off for convictions in other parts of New Zealand.
Three were for possession of objectionable material, one for
indecent acts on a child; one for assaulting a child; one for
an inappropriate relationship with a pupil and assault; one
for indecent assault; three for drugs; one for an
inappropriate relationship with a pupil; three for serious
misconduct; and one for benefit fraud.
Teachers are required, under the Education Act 1989, to
inform the New Zealand Teachers' Council within seven days
when they receive a conviction.
The registrar of each court in New Zealand also contacts the
Teachers' Council when a person they believe to be a teacher
is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment of
three months or more.
Otago Primary Principals' Association president Whetu Cormick
said the Teachers' Council and the criminal justice system
appeared to be working well in tandem to ensure members of
the teaching profession convicted of serious offences were
identified and dealt with accordingly.
Mr Cormick said all educators shared the view teachers should
be fit and proper to teach children.
''The [teachers' Disciplinary] Tribunal has a very robust
system for dealing with teachers who have been convicted.
They don't take it lightly.''
Dr Lind said the statistics needed to be kept in perspective
given the country's more than 100,000 registered teachers.
The number of teachers convicted of a criminal offence was a
''very small proportion of the profession'', he said, ''in
fact, it is less than 0.01%''.
''This should give the New Zealand public assurance that the
vast majority of teachers are professional and law abiding,''