The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has found a school principal unlawfully suspended and excluded a child from school pending an investigation into allegations the child had sexually assaulted three other children at the school.

The principal met with the parents of the child and asked them to take him home pending an investigation.  He led the parents to believe that this was the proper lawful process. 

The principal also advised the Board of Trustees Chair that the suspension was lawful and justified, while knowing that it was not.  The principal also failed to advise the Board of Trustees of further information he knew about and failed to advise the crisis team of information that he was aware of. 

The Tribunal found that the child’s emotional state and education were impacted by the principal’s actions and that the principal was not honest in his dealings with the parents and the school Board of Trustees.  There was a proper process to be followed and the principal felt justified in departing from that lawful process and misleading the parents and Board as to his actions.  This amounted to serious misconduct.

The principal was censured and ordered to undergo mentoring for six months before resuming any position as a principal.  He must also undergo training in professional development and provide proof of that to the Teachers Council.

The previous long held practice of informal kiwi suspensions now carries serious consequences and school administrators must ensure that they follow the correct lawful processes when dealing with the suspension or exclusion of children from school.

Alan Knowsley
Education Lawyer