A teacher receiving a Widows Benefit pleaded guilty to misleading a Social Welfare officer and to five charges of fraud after dishonestly completing documents stating that she was not working or receiving any other income. Consequently, the teacher was overpaid by more than $72,000. The teacher was sentenced to six months community detention and 200 hours of community service.

The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that the teacher be censured and that the register be annotated with their decision. The Tribunal also imposed a condition on the teacher’s practicing certificate so that she must advise any prospective employer of their decision.

The Tribunal felt that de-registration was not necessary to fulfil their obligations to the public and the profession by only a fine margin. The Tribunal took into account the fact that the fraud had occurred while she was a registered teacher, and that the offending had occurred for 8 years and involved a lot of money. However, the Tribunal held that because the teacher understood the seriousness of her offending and was genuinely remorseful, and that future offending was unlikely to occur de-registration would be too punitive.

The Tribunal denied name suppression on the grounds that humiliation is not enough to justify an application especially when criminal proceedings took place in the public sphere.


Alan Knowsley

Education Lawyer