School camp row: Mum alleges sexual advances

Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal chairwoman Theodora Baker (left) found that no case of serious...
Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal chairwoman Theodora Baker (left) found that no case of serious misconduct was proven against a male teacher who let a mother lie down on his bed at night. Photo / NZH File
A mother who was helping at a school camp has alleged that a male teacher made unwanted sexual advances towards her in his bedroom at night.

The teacher has admitted that he let the mother into his room and allowed her to lie down on his bed while she was alone in the room with him.

But the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has dismissed a charge of serious misconduct against the teacher because there was no evidence that the alleged sexual advances occurred.

The names of the teacher, the mother and the years 7 to 13 college where the teacher worked have been suppressed.

An agreed statement of facts says that the male teacher was one of two teachers in charge of a school camp for Year 7 students at the college in February last year.

"On the evening February 12, 2019, [the teacher] told the parents at the camp to come and wake him up if there were any concerns or trouble with the students," the agreed statement says.

"That evening and in the early hours of the morning of February 13, [the mother] was woken up by students and other female parents with whom she was sharing a room.

"In the early hours of the morning of February 13, frustrated at not being able to sleep properly, [the mother] went to [the teacher's] room to share her concerns.

"[The teacher] allowed [the mother] into his room after she knocked on his door and woke him up. [The mother] initially sat on a chair in the room, but eventually lay down on [the teacher's] bed at his suggestion. According to [the teacher], when [the mother] lay down on his bed, he was not lying on the bed, but rather was sitting on the corner of the bed.

"[The mother] subsequently went to retrieve her sleeping bag and pillow from her room. Upon her return, [the teacher] allowed [the mother] to come back inside the room and to lie down on his bed again.

"After a short period, [the mother] left the room. Shortly after leaving the room, [the mother] informed two other parents at the camp that something had happened with [the teacher], and presented as distressed and upset."

The mother and another parent reported the incident later that day to the college principal.

"[The mother] alleged that inappropriate sexual conduct had taken place between herself and [the teacher] in [the teacher's] room."

About 12 days later the mother lodged a complaint with police about the incident. Police "considered that there was insufficient evidence of any criminal conduct and that a police investigation was not required".

The teacher told the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal's investigators that the mother had made a "barrage" of requests and complaints to the college of a "strange" and "unusual" nature prior to the school camp.

He said: "When we were at camp it became clear that [the mother] was not going to be much help and she was quickly evolving into a liability. (I have... some major concerns for her mental health).

"I did say to [the mother], 'If you have any issues come and see me.' The incident is included in my report to the principal.

"I certainly did not do what she alleged but unfortunately I have made myself vulnerable to accusation by letting her come into my room and trying to help her. My main concern for letting her come in my room was to avoid her annoying and burdening other staff and parents...

"I am personally upset at being put in this position and deeply regret letting her come into the bedroom. This is a conduct I would never do again and certainly lesson learnt.

"Unfortunately and somewhat frustrating for me is that [the mother] has effectively no consequences for making this story up. I cannot fathom why she did this and what she had to gain by it."

The tribunal chair Theo Baker found that the teacher's conduct was "foolish and inappropriate" but did not amount to serious misconduct because no sexual advances had been proved.

"It reflects poorly on his judgment, but not necessarily on his fitness to be a teacher," the tribunal said.

"We do not approve of a teacher allowing a parent into his bedroom on a school trip and we do not think that it is very professional but we are not prepared to impose any of the
orders under s 404 [of the Education Act]."

 

 

 

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