School Board caught with pants down

For the first time in eleven years someone has been sanctioned for not putting in a mandatory report to the then Teachers Council.

A former school principal has been censured for serious misconduct after he failed to report sexual offending complaints against one of his teachers, who went on to abuse more children.

The Board of Trustees and the principal have been caught with their pants down.

During a two-day disciplinary tribunal hearing in Napier in December, Bremer denied he had acted inappropriately, saying the complaints against Harter did not appear to be serious at the time.

Bremer and a member of the school’s board of trustees at the time, Jol Bates, told the hearing the school followed what it believed to be an appropriate process.

Bates, who is an employment lawyer, said the board, not Bremer, was responsible for dealing with the Harter complaints because it was the teacher’s employer.

Yet this is a government-owned school staffed by registered teachers.

Fortunately Whaleoil also has access to the final decision (redacted). It appears the school tried to cover up the offending and paid out the paedophile teacher for a resignation.  

171. The members of this Tribunal are not altogether unfamiliar with employment law and the way in which the overwhelming majority of employment disputes are resolved, and it comes as no surprise to the Tribunal that Mr Bates’ approach and advice to his fellow board and committee members was to move things towards a private mediation with a view to a confidential negotiation and ultimately to a settlement. That, of course, is exactly what happened. Mr Bates arranged a mediator, proposed mediation to Harter, and, on 24 June 2014, a mediation took place. As we have already said, the Tribunal is unable to look past the cloak of confidentiality which applies – and quite rightly applies – to all mediations. So we know nothing about what transpired. All we know is that a settlement was reached which involved the termination of the board’s contract of employment with Harter and that the board (and we deliberately refer to the board in this context) communicated with the world by way of a letter signed by the respondent, which, though it may have had a germ of truth in it in explaining Harter’s departure by reference to his health, was far from a complete disclosure of what had transpired. We have no doubt that one of the things negotiated at the mediation was the terms of that letter, and that, having settled the matter on those terms, the school, the board, the committee, Mr Bates and the respondent had no choice, from a contractual perspective at least, but to communicate the reasons for Harter’s departure in those terms.

They saw no problem trying to hush this all up and hide Mr Harter’s offending from the general public and the Ministry of Education.

But that isn’t all:

3.3(b): Despite knowing that Mr Harter provided private lessons, namely music and/or drama to students outside of the School, did not take any or any appropriate steps to ensure that students or members of the wider community did not attend those lessons and/or had protections in place if they did attend;

And guess what? He went on to offend there as well.

So what did they tell parents at the school?

…the parents of children at the school who were taught by Harter received two notices concerning him. She [victim’s mother] said that the first informed them that Harter was having some time off school “for family reasons” and the second informed them that “due to health reasons Mr Harter was no longer employed by the school but that the school wished him well in the future”. She said that those notices conveyed no indication to her that she should have any concerns about Harter in relation to her daughters.

This is disgusting.

There will be more released in due course.


– Fairfax


Decision of the NZ Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal

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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.