Former principal suspended for inappropriate conduct

Principal also censured and barred from seeking, accepting management roles

Former principal suspended for inappropriate conduct

A former principal in New Zealand has been suspended for six months due to inappropriate conduct towards another teacher, unprofessional behaviour, and being drunk during a board meeting, among other issues.

The New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal ordered the suspension of the former principal, whose identity was not disclosed, to allow her to rehabilitate.

"We also will impose conditions to ensure that the respondent seeks professional assistance with respect to her role as a teacher, and her mental health," the tribunal ordered.

"Conditions will reflect the importance of professional development including training in the Code and professional boundaries, and a formal mentoring relationship with a senior teacher."

The tribunal also censured the former principal and barred her from seeking or accepting a role in management.

Complaints against principal

The penalties were handed out after the principal was found engaging in various unacceptable behaviour towards colleagues under her leadership.

Among the complaints raised were having a "short-lived relationship" with a teacher aide. According to the tribunal, while there is no general prohibition on teaching colleagues, individual circumstances will always be relevant.

"The respondent acted unprofessionally when she allowed the relationship to encroach into the school day, and when she became indiscreet in her communications, for example by referring to mutual colleagues in a disrespectful way," the tribunal said.

According to the tribunal, the principal's relationship with the teacher aide shows a "significant lack of judgement and lack of appreciation for professional boundaries."

In another complaint, the principal also attended a Zoom meeting with colleagues during the pandemic while "impaired by alcohol." She reportedly acted an "unusual manner," such as slurring her words, kissing the camera, and giggling during her uninvited lead of a prayer.

As a result of her actions, the court also ordered her to also provide her employer or prospective employer a copy of the tribunal's decision for a period of three years.

She must also provide evidence to the Teaching Council that she is undergoing therapy with a qualified counsellor or psychologist, as well as mentoring with a senior teacher.

The former principal is now teaching for another school for approximately a year without incident, according to the tribunal.

"The respondent has shown some insight, and provided some evidence that goes some way to explaining but not excusing her conduct," the tribunal said.

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