A 61-year-old teacher has been censured for sending a
vulnerable 16-year-old German exchange student to sexualised
The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal, in a decision released
today, censured the teacher for serious misconduct, imposed
strict conditions if he ever tried to teach again, and
ordered him to pay $2729.82 of the student's costs.
The teacher was the head of the school's international
exchange student programme at a public co-ed school, and
hosted the girl -- along with two other German students --
for several months in 2010 and 2011.
The tribunal described the number of text messages between
the teacher and student -- 1940 over a six month period -- as
Both names are suppressed to protect the victim's identity.
In one, he calls her "sweet pea" and "favor8 model with legs
dat go al d way 2 d honey pot =)".
The teacher told the tribunal that "honey pot" was not a
reference to genitalia.
"He told us that his words could mean 'anything he wanted
them to mean'. Frankly, his response, when pressed on this
point, amounted to dissembling. There is simply no other
interpretation of this text," the tribunal decision stated.
Other texts included a reference to himself as "sugar daddy",
compliments on the student for being "young nd beautiful",
asking if he can skinny dip with her, and jokes that he only
smokes "rfta sex".
In another, he asks: "How painful was d brazilian? U wil hav
2 show me wen u get home =)".
The girl, along with another girl who was also staying at the
teacher's house, complained to the school. The teacher was
fired and the matter was referred to the Teachers Council.
A complaint was also made to police, which chose not to lay
The tribunal examined only the texts, and did not take a view
on the nature of the relationship -- although it noted that
the teacher "sought to foster what he termed 'Latin
touching"' in order to hug the homestay students.
"Frankly, for a teacher to text any school-aged child, but
most especially a child who is living in his home and in
respect of whom he is in the position of a parent, in the
terms which [the teacher] did, including references to that
student's genitalia ... is unacceptable," the tribunal's
The girl was emotionally and psychologically vulnerable --
prone to mood swings and self-harm -- and the teacher tried
to instil himself as her counsellor, even though he had no
The teacher accepted that some of his texts were
inappropriate, but claimed that he was only trying to assist
her with her issues.
He told the tribunal that all he was doing is what he would
have done for one of his own children in the same situation.
The teacher's practising certificate had expired, and he had
no plans to return to the classroom.
The tribunal ruled that if the teacher applied for a
certificate in future, he would have to do an intensive
programme to understand the proper boundaries between
teachers and students.
Any future employer would also be made aware of his
background and the tribunal's decision.
- Derek Cheng of APNZ