The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal recently cancelled a teacher’s registration after she was convicted for the possession of cannabis for supply. The teacher failed to self-report the conviction to the Teaching Council as required by law.

The teacher was found in the possession of an amount of cannabis well above the level  to make it “for supply”. She was convicted of possession of cannabis for supply and sentenced to three months home detention.

The teacher had previously failed to self-report a conviction of excess blood alcohol whilst driving. No disciplinary process was undertaken by the Complaints Assessment Committee because it was her first conviction.

The Teaching Council was notified of the cannabis conviction by the District Court.

The Tribunal had to determine whether “the behaviour that resulted in the conviction reflects adversely on the fitness of the respondent to practice as a teacher”.

A teacher is in a position to influence young people, and should instil positive values in their students. The Tribunal decided that possessing illegal drugs clearly did not uphold positive values and that the conviction therefore reflected negatively on the teacher’s ability to teach.

The Tribunal also considered the elements of serious misconduct, which includes whether a person’s actions bring the teaching profession into disrepute. The Tribunal decided that this conduct met the threshold of disrepute, considering the unlawful possession and supply of illegal drugs.

The Tribunal decided that the serious nature of the offending and the teacher’s failure to engage in the disciplinary process justified a serious penalty and the teacher’s registration was cancelled.

This outcome may have been different if the teacher had taken steps to mitigate the risk of reoffending, for example by engaging in rehabilitation processes such as drugs and alcohol counselling.