The Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal has recently found a teacher guilty of misconduct after she lied on her CV in order to obtain her job as Head of Faculty for Personalised Learning.

The teacher applied for the job and had an interview with the school principal. The principal could not get in contact with one previous employer and received “vague” feedback from another. However, the principal hired the teacher on the basis of her CV and interview performance.

Key aspects of the role included managing teacher aides, including recruitment and employment. The role also required developing individual education plans, and working with students who were not achieving or had particular needs.

Soon after the teacher was appointed to the role, the principal developed concerns regarding the teacher’s competence for the role. It was soon clear to the principal that the teacher did not have the skills required for such a senior role.

The Complaints Assessment Committee commenced an investigation into the teacher’s potential misconduct. Their findings were referred to the Tribunal for consideration.

The Tribunal had to consider whether the teacher’s behaviour was misconduct. Misconduct is defined as conduct that:

  1. Adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the well-being or learning of one or more students;
  2. Reflects adversely on the teacher’s fitness to be a teacher; or
  3. May bring the teaching profession into disrepute.

The Tribunal heard evidence from a number of people including the principal, other employees of the school, and teachers that had previously worked with the teacher.  

The Tribunal found that the teacher’s CV stated that the teacher was able to liaise with agencies and allocate budget cost effectively. The CV also said that the teacher had collaborated on and developed individual education programmes, specifically for students with Aspergers, ADHD and Down Syndrome.

The teacher’s CV also included leadership roles from previous employment, such as “Head of Literacy” and “Head of Whānau”. The principal stated that these factors meant the teacher seemed a perfect fit for a senior role which included creating individual education programmes and helping special needs students.

Evidence provided to the Tribunal found that the teacher had over-represented her experience. In some cases her previous role titles did not exist, such as “Head of Whānau”.

Further, while the teacher did have some experience with individual education programmes, she had not created them or collaborated in creating them. At best the teacher had contributed to them.

The Tribunal concluded that this misleading behaviour intentionally gave the incorrect impression that the teacher was fit for the senior role. Dishonesty adversely reflected on the teacher’s fitness to be a teacher. Students, particularly special needs students, were put at risk as a result of the teacher’s conduct.

The Tribunal accepted that the teacher’s conduct amounted to misconduct and the teacher was censured. Conditions were imposed on the teacher’s practising certificate, including that she could not work in a management role for the next two years.

She was also ordered to pay over $4,000 in costs.

This decision is a clear reminder that honesty is a key aspect of the teaching profession. If you have concerns about someone’s role as a teacher it pays to seek legal advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors