The New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has censured a teacher following an investigation that revealed he had been accessing and storing inappropriate content on his school laptop.

The teacher accessed a number of inappropriate websites during school hours. As a consequence of him visiting the websites, software was saved to the teacher’s computer that attempted to access explicit websites thousands of times.

This led to explicit pop-ups appearing while the teacher was taking a class. A complaint was made, and the teacher’s laptop was electronically examined.

In addition to accessing questionable websites, it emerged that the teacher also stored a suggestive image of his partner and used it as a background.

The Tribunal held that the teacher’s storage and exposure of explicit material to students was careless, reckless, and reflected poorly on his judgement. Furthermore, his conduct had likely adversely affected the well-being or learning of at least one student.

The teacher’s actions were found to bring the teaching profession into disrepute, and amounted to serious misconduct.

The Tribunal accepted the conduct was at the lower end of serious misconduct, as the teacher did not personally access the explicit websites. It ordered the teacher to be censured and required him to inform any future employer of the decision for the next two years.

When using an employer’s equipment, it is advisable to refrain from personal or unnecessary use that is inappropriate. If there are concerns regarding the use of school devices or exposure of students to inappropriate content, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

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Alan Knowsley
Education Lawyer