Teachers hiding behind draconian secrecy provisions

I am highly critical of the Herald but today they have done something of a public service in highlighting the draconian secrecy provisions of the Teachers’ Council disciplinary proceedings. Secrecy that allows criminal teachers to escape wider censure.

A physical education teacher at a Christian school has admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student – one of 11 teachers found guilty of serious misconduct last year whose actions have been permanently suppressed.

The New Zealand Teachers Council has posted a warning advising the public and media it is illegal to publish details of disciplinary proceedings.

The warning is based on a little-known blanket suppression rule that has never been enforced, and is more draconian than the rules used by the criminal courts and most disciplinary bodies.

The Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal has suspended the PE teacher’s practising certificate for three years, and has ordered him to tell prospective employers of the offence if he returns to teaching.

However because of the new warning we can’t report his name. Nor can we report his school. Strictly speaking, the Herald on Sunday shouldn’t be reporting the misconduct and suspension at all.

Teachers Council (Conduct) Rule 32(1), set in place under statute in 2004, means nobody may publish any details of a tribunal decision. That means any reports you’ve read in newspapers or seen on television are against the law. 

They claim to have the secrecy provisions over the details of the offenders to protect the children involved.

Lind said the reason for strict rules around publishing was because key witnesses were almost always children or young people who had been through a traumatic event. Anonymity was one way of assuring parents and innocent children they could come forward.

Easy fixed…change the law to keep the complainants details secret, but publish the offender details was a deliberation is reached. How hard can it be. People have a right to know, especially about teachers like this:

[C]ommunities may not be told about the two teachers found guilty of physically abusing students last year, another one found to have sexually abused a vulnerable student, six teachers who were found guilty of theft or fraud, one who tried to get a gang member to “cap” her principal, not to mention the PE teacher in the inappropriate relationship.

Simon Power made cosmetic changes to name suppression laws after I highlighted several high profile cases…the law needs to be changed here too…unfortunately I don;t hold much hope for that

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.