6 Mar 2019

Teacher pushed 6-year-old student against wall

7:21 pm on 6 March 2019

A teacher from a South Auckland school has had his registration cancelled after he pushed a student so hard it led to a bleeding nose.

An empty primary school classroom.

Photo: 123rf

Andrew Ratene Ormsby, former teacher at Kura Akonga o Manurewa, was found to have used unreasonable force on a 6-year-old child, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal said.

In May 2016, Mr Ormsby asked the child to stop misbehaving, but the child didn't budge. He then called the child saying "haere mai".

When the child approached him, he pushed the child's head with his hand and the child went face first into the partition wall of the classroom.

The impact of hitting the wall left the child with a bleeding nose and a sound loud enough for the teacher on the other side of the partition to hear the thump.

Several children witnessed the incident and the matter was referred to police and Child Youth and Family, now Oranga Tamariki, and the Teaching Council. The Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) undertook an investigation.

Mr Ormsby, who had worked at the kura for approximately six years, was suspended and in August 2016 signed an undertaking not to teach.

In December 2016, he received a warning from police for assault on a child.

He denied the substance of the CAC charge of serious misconduct.

Initially, he accepted that his behaviour amounted to serious misconduct and he subjected the child to physical abuse. He then changed his stance.

Mr Ormsby accepted he was guilty of serious misconduct, in that he had failed to keep a child safe.

In hindsight, he explained it was the flu that affected his self-control.

He said he wasn't "feeling any anger" towards the child but was unwell at the time with "flu-like" symptoms.

Mr Ormsby said he didn't intend to apply force, but accidentally pushed the child into the wall when he sneezed.

"My nose was very thick with mucus and I think that I sneezed at about that time," he said.

He said he shouldn't have been at school that day because his ability to "react to anything was very low".

"I never imagined that this day would turn my whole world upside down. I am still struggling with the idea that a child was hurt by me under my care."

The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal said that something "as ordinary as a transitory illness" could not operate as a justification or excuse.

The tribunal were "unable to reconcile his admission of misconduct for something that he alleged to have happened accidentally".

It rejected Mr Ormsby's submission and found that he "intentionally applied force" to the child stating a significant amount of force was used.

However, his counsel said the evidence around an "intentional push" wasn't certain.

This incident was an "extremely clear-cut example of serious misconduct," the tribunal said.

Mr Ormsby's registration was cancelled and he was ordered to pay $10,497 to the CAC and $3,467 to the Teaching Council.

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