The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has censured a teacher, and imposed conditions on the renewal of her teaching certificate, after she was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for the third time.

The teacher lived rurally with her elderly mother who suffered from dementia. The teacher had consumed a significant amount of alcohol, when her mother became upset and left the house, at night, and in the rain.

Since there were no emergency services nearby, the teacher decided to look for her mother using the car. After finding her mother, the teacher decided to return her to the rest home, but was stopped by police on the way.

The Tribunal explained that teachers are expected to maintain high standards of conduct while at school, and in their personal lives, as role models for students.

The Tribunal held that despite it being the teacher’s third conviction, the exceptional circumstances convinced them that cancellation and suspension were not necessary.

Instead, in its finding of serious misconduct, the Tribunal ordered that the teacher be censured and the register annotated for two years.

Additionally, the teacher was required to undertake rehabilitation to convince the Teaching Council she had addressed her poor relationship with alcohol.

Teachers’ conduct outside of the workplace is taken seriously, reflecting their fitness to teach. If there are concerns about a teacher’s conduct, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.


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Alan Knowsley
Education Lawyer
Wellington


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