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A 61-year-old teacher has been censured for sending a vulnerable 16-year-old German exchange student to sexualised text messages.
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 extraordinary.
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 charges.
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 decision said.
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 counsellor training.
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