In a recent case to come before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal, a teacher has been found to have engaged in serious misconduct after texting with a student and meeting them at a local bar. Initially, the student provided his mobile number to the teacher in relation to completion and delivery of a project before the teacher was to leave New Zealand. A short time later, the teacher was having drinks with friends and colleagues and became intoxicated. The student indicated to the teacher by text he would be at another bar and the teacher left to meet him. After meeting with the student, the teacher went home alone.

Meeting the student outside the professional environment without a valid reason breached the Code of Professional Conduct despite the encounter not leading any further. Although the Tribunal indicated these acts were on the lower end of the scale of serious misconduct, it nonetheless shows the zero tolerance approach taken towards extra professional relationships with students. The teacher was censured and must inform any prospective employer of the decision for the next two years.

Alan Knowsley
Education Lawyer