Ex-teacher charged with indecent acts

A former teacher at one of the country's top secondary schools has appeared in court charged with committing an indecent act at the school.

The man was granted interim name suppression when he appeared in the Auckland District Court today. He entered no plea to a charge of committing an indecent act in June last year.

The alleged act happened in a classroom the secondary school, where the man worked for more than a decade.

A NZ Teachers Council spokesman confirmed the man was now under investigation by the education body.

"He was suspended by the employer in June last year and he resigned the following month," the spokesman said.

"Our understanding is that he hasn't taught since then. He also has signed a voluntary undertaking not to teach."

The council had suspended the man on an interim basis anyway, meaning he cannot lawfully work as a teacher.

"We know about the charges and our disciplinary investigation will be completed, a tribunal hearing conducted and a decision handed down after the criminal processes are completed," the spokesman said.

"In criminal charges of this kind we wait for the criminal process to run its course."

Today, the current principal of the school where the alleged act occurred referred APNZ to the board of trustees chairman for comment, but the chairman could not be contacted.

The accused declined to comment when approached.

His case has surfaced as proposed legislation beefing up teacher regulation and removing secrecy around disciplinary proceedings is before parliament.

Among the proposed changes is the establishment of the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand as an independent statutory body, in place of the NZ Teachers Council.

Other proposed changes include making disciplinary proceedings against misbehaving teachers open unless there is good cause for name suppression and automatic referral of teachers to a disciplinary tribunal for cases of serious misconduct.

A spokesman from Hekia Parata's office said it would be inappropriate for the education minister to comment on a matter before the courts.

Auckland District Court held two charge sheets for the teacher, however his lawyer, Richard Earwaker, said his client faced just one charge relating to an incident in the classroom. He suspected the duplication was an error.

This could not be confirmed with the court tonight.

- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ

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