TEACHERS are being allowed to work in schools despite having been found guilty and, in some cases, imprisoned for offences including assault, fraud, drug possession, firearms and breaching restraining orders.
Shouldn’t we be asking more questions about who’s looking after our kids?
The information, obtained through a Freedom of Information request from Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire, showed to April this year 22 applicants granted teacher registration declared they had been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.
The Teachers Registration Board response revealed these applicants were among 29 who made a declaration relating to questions about fitness and propriety this year. For the whole of 2012, 57 applicants made a declaration relating to questions about fitness and propriety.
Mr Brokenshire said teachers were role models and some of our most respected citizens, and registration must be a cautious and thorough process.
“I think they need to monitor the performance of teachers where there’s obvious a question mark over an individual for the sake of the profession,” he said.
In one instance a teacher had their registrations approved with a formal letter of warning despite being convicted of fraud offences relating to a Centrelink benefit and being handed a suspended jail term in 2009. Another was found guilty of minor assault in 2012 and fined but not convicted.
The Advertiser revealed earlier this year that all teachers would be subject to a child protection check in addition to a criminal history check and that checks would also be done before a person started studying to become a teacher.
Education Minister Jennifer Rankine said a list of offences that would “absolutely and categorically” prohibit someone from becoming a teacher was being created.
“Parents are entitled to have confidence that the most ethical people become teachers, working in our schools with their children,” she said.
Teachers Registration Board of SA acting registrar Barry Thompson said the care of children was the fundamental principle of the Board when considering applicants for teacher registration.
“Many of those offence were a long time ago, in many cases it was when they were a bit younger,” he said.
“That shouldn’t be held against them for forever and a day.”
TEACHERS REGISTERED THIS YEAR:
Found guilty without conviction of a minor drug matter (prescription medication) in 2011. Fined, granted registration.
Convicted of fraud offences (Centrelink benefit) in 2009 Sentence of imprisonment suspended upon entering a good behaviour bond. Granted registration with a formal letter of warning
Found guilty without conviction of minor assault in 2012. Fined, granted registration
Convicted in NSW of deception offences in 2010. Served a sentence of imprisonment. Granted with a condition relating to health.
TEACHERS REGISTERED IN 2012
Convicted of fraud offences (Centrelink benefit) in 2005, found guilty of breaching a restraint order without conviction in 2006 and 2007. Fraud conviction resulted in sentence of imprisonment suspended upon the imposition of a bond, a bond was imposed on first charge of breaching a restraint order. Granted registration.
Charged with a public order offence in 2007 in Victoria. Dealt with using a Diversion Plan, including a donation and letter of apology. Granted registration.
Under law a person must not undertake employment as a teacher or principal unless the person is a registered teacher. Teacher are required to renew their registration every three years.
All teachers seeking to renew their registration are required to provide evidence of a current mandatory notification training course and must consent to a national criminal history check.
A registered teacher must notify the Board if they are dismissed or resigned from employment as a practising teacher in response to or following allegations of unprofessional conduct.
The State Government has recently announced it also plans to introduce child protection checks. Under the plan university entrant who want to study teaching would have to undergo criminal history and child protection checks before beginning their degree.
So why are they slipping through the system?