An early childhood teacher in a centre was caught on closed-circuit television removing some contents from children's lunch-boxes and placing food items in her pocket and plastic bag to consume later
She was observed doing this on two days in November 2011. A report issued by the Teachers' Disciplinary Tribunal this week has censured the teacher for serious misconduct.
Counsel for the Complainant submitted that relevant factors included:
- the relatively modest value of what was stolen,
- stealing from children is considered at the serious end of the spectrum of unacceptable ethical behaviour,
- the impact on trust within the centre and between the parents and centre,
- the effect on children that they were not believed in the first instance, and
- the respondent's cooperation with the investigation.
The allegations were not denied by the teacher and she has been forthright in explaining all the circumstances of the case to the early childhood centre that now employs her.
The Complainant and the teacher had reached an agreement as to the appropriate outcome and the Tribunal viewed the agreement to be an appropriate reflection of the seriousness of the matter. However, the teacher's former employer was not satisfied with the agreement and the Tribunal therefore decided to translate the agreement into an order.
The order is that the teacher will declare the matter to any prospective employer and provide a copy of the Tribunal's decision. The teacher will inform the NZ Teachers' Council manager that disclosure has taken place. A decision on payment of costs to the Complainant has been reserved to be dealt with by the Tribunal chairman if necessary.
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