Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Australian teacher has warned men not to join the profession after enduring two-year investigation

A TEACHER of 35 years experience has warned young men against joining the profession after enduring an investigation into an alleged incident with a student that lasted close to two years and left him mentally scarred.

The southern suburbs man has detailed the isolating and humiliating “farce” he was put through when investigated by the Education Department, which has revealed it finalised 80 disciplinary matters involving teachers and other staff last year.

“It goes from zero to psycho in an instant,” the teacher said of the investigation into whether he inappropriately touched a student, which he estimated would have cost taxpayers $250,000.

“I am so pissed off because of the indignity of what I had to go through.  “It must cost (the department) millions each year chasing frivolous or vexatious complaints that should be at least attempted to be resolved at the local level.

“I would discourage any young guy from going into teaching.”

The Australian Education Union says cases often run for well over a year and as long as three years, arguing principals should be allowed to deal with many of them to resolve them faster.

But the Department says the delays are out of its control as it must wait for any police investigations and court cases to end before it can finalise its own actions, which are slowed by interventions from the union and the accused’s lawyers.

A spokesman acknowledged the process was “stressful” but said investigations had to be robust to ensure “the safety and wellbeing of the children in our care”.

Investigations can cover allegations of abuse or assault, financial wrongdoing, sexual harassment and a range of other matters. Last year 27 allegations were “substantiated with findings” and in three cases staff resigned prior to an outcome. Another 17 were handled through “managerial processes” and 33 were unsubstantiated. The department would not detail outcomes of substantiated cases or say how much it spends on investigations.

The physical education teacher, 60, was stood down from his job at a suburban primary school in 2014.

He was kept in the dark for six months about basic details of the accusation until he was interviewed by police who did not lay charges. He maintained his innocence through the department’s investigation and was sent a “cold and calculating” letter early this year ordering him back to work.

But suffering severe anxiety and panic attacks and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he is taking sick leave and long service leave to recover and hopes to teach again next year.

Original report here

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