News

'Principal not a risk despite inappropriate sexual comments'

A REGIONAL school principal has been suspended from teaching for a year after making sexually suggestive comments to Year 12 girls.

The 44-year-old man has been a teacher since 1991.

At a school athletics carnival in 2009, he asked one of the girls whether her sister was a "tart" and then said "she's a pretty girl".

The principal also asked the girls for their mobile numbers and texted inappropriate comments

."Saw you on the oval. Nice legs," he wrote to one.

"What are you doing? I just got out of the shower," he wrote to both.

He said "hi sexy" to one of them in a closed office and once phoned her late on a Saturday night for a personal conversation.

The man was the head of a non-state school in regional Queensland until he resigned in 2011.

He then became a deputy principal at another non-state school in regional Queensland until the suspension was ordered in November.

The man, who otherwise had an unblemished teaching history, argued he was a strong advocate for education and cared greatly for his students' welfare.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in a judgment published this week, had to decide whether the man posed an unacceptable risk of harm to children before they could find him unsuitable to work in a child-related field.

"The tribunal accepts the agreed behaviours are limited to year 12 students and that the level of the communication, although inappropriate and sexualised, did not evidence behaviour that suggested or established a progressing pattern of behaviour or an unacceptable risk of harm," the judgment read.

"The tribunal also agrees the behaviour was not to the degree or level that could establish the action as disgraceful or improper that shows the teacher is unfit to be granted registration."

But the three-person tribunal panel found the behaviour did not satisfy the "standard behaviour generally expected of a teacher".

Before the man can return to the teaching profession after his 12-month suspension, he must satisfy a psychologist that he has addressed nine problem areas, including differentiating between personal and professional relationships and knowing how to implement professional boundaries with individual students.

"The role of principal is often what makes and marks a school," the judgment said.

"The principal sets the tone and displays the behaviour on which students and staff model their own behaviour.

"If the tone and behaviour fall below professional standards there is greater risk to the welfare of the students and damage to the reputation of the school and those engaged in it."

QCAT made a non-publication order for the teacher's name, schools and other identifying information.

Topics:  principal, queensland civil and administrative tribunal, resignation, suspension, teaching



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