The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has penalised a woman for serious misconduct after she sent fake invoices to clients on behalf of her company. The woman received a total of $19,200 from the fake invoices.

The company launched an investigation into the woman’s conduct after a client queried one of their invoices. On the invoice the woman’s name, address, and bank account had been written in place of the company’s details.

The investigation found that the woman had sent over 20 invoices using this method, gaining $19,200 which should have gone to the company. Due to the company’s concerns of serious misconduct and the fact that the woman held a teaching registration, the woman was referred to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal had to determine whether the woman’s conduct amounted to serious misconduct. Conduct may be considered serious misconduct where it adversely affects the well-being of one or more students, adversely reflects on the person’s fitness to teach, and may bring the teaching profession into disrepute.

The woman fully accepted the claims against her and apologised. She submitted to the Tribunal that she had not faked the invoices for personal gain, but in order to support her family financially. The woman told the Tribunal that she was under significant financial pressure, but regretted her actions.

The Tribunal accepted that the woman was under pressure, but that was no excuse for her conduct. The Tribunal further stated that despite the woman not working in a teaching capacity, she worked in an educational role.

It is accepted that a person’s actions in their personal life reflects on their fitness to practise. The Tribunal emphasised the need for teachers to be able to separate personal and professional boundaries, which the woman had failed to do.

The Tribunal decided that the conduct adversely reflected on the woman’s fitness to practise and despite her situation, may bring the teaching profession into disrepute. The Tribunal therefore decided that the conduct amounted to serious misconduct.

In determining a penalty the Tribunal considered the extensive rehabilitative steps the woman had taken. These included repaying the full amount taken from the company, and facing the consequences of her actions, including criminal proceedings.

The Tribunal decided to censure the woman and impose conditions on her practising certificate, including that she must not undertake any role that involves the handling of money.

It is important to be aware of your professional responsibilities as a teacher. If you are confused about these responsibilities, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.  


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors