Teacher of Ashburton College unit not stood down

6:29 pm on 22 October 2021

The principal of Ashburton College has defended his decision not to stand down a teacher under investigation following long-term bullying allegations.

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File image. Photo: 123RF

Ross Preece confirmed a teacher within the college's Te Whare Manaaki learning support unit had not been stood down, despite it being the subject of an investigation.

A preliminary report had been received was being shared with some of the wider school community for review and input following "concerns within the unit".

The process was expected to take a week, Preece said.

Melanie Deuart, who had taken her autistic son out of the school following complaints to school leaders around the teacher, said she was keen to see the report after she was interviewed during the independent inquiry.

The investigation began in June amid long-term allegations of bullying and abuse of pupils within the unit from parents and former staff.

When asked if the teacher at the centre of the allegations had been stood down, Preece said "Why would she be stood down?".

"At the moment it's allegations," he said.

"The report will be what we're working from."

He added that it was an employment matter and would not be commenting further until the report had been finalised.

Last week the school confirmed that additional security cameras had been installed in the class during the recent school holidays, although Preece said it was part of wider school upgrade.

He said there was close to 20 cameras situated throughout school premises.

The Ministry of Education said the decisions about the use and installation of CCTV in schools was the responsibility of the school board and principal.

Although the ministry had funded security cameras at other schools, it confirmed it had not funded the cameras at Ashburton College.

Schools are eligible for top up costs for security improvements if they complete a Ministry-funded security audit.

A spokeswoman said schools did not require permission from parents to install CCTV.

The ministry added that according to guidance from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was that there should be notices about the presence of cameras, and policies in place about storage and access to the information collected.

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