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Thousands Of Teachers Unchecked

THOUSANDS of teachers and school staff who have not had criminal record checks are being named in Education Department memos to school principals.
E-mails sent yesterday urged the principals to seek authorisation for police checks from teachers who work at their school.
About 4000, or 7 per cent, of Victorian teachers and school staff have not had a police check.
Revelations a second principal allegedly possessed child pornography made it "two too many", Victorian Primary Principals Association president Fred Ackerman said.
"Parents with kids in those schools would feel it was totally inadequate that everyone had not been checked already," he said.
"We welcome the department's directive."
Mr Ackerman said he did not believe it would produce tensions between unwilling teachers and principals.
Australian Education Union state deputy president Ann Taylor said in most cases checks would be unnecessary because most of the teachers had been teaching for more than 20 years with an unblemished record.
"I would hope teachers wouldn't be pressured into it and I would hope principals would implement it appropriately," she said.
Opposition education spokesman Victor Perton said the department's initiative was not enough.
"It shouldn't be voluntary. That is the lazy person's way of doing this," he said.
"We have found too many teachers (with child pornography) fortuitously with the help of the American police action.
"The Government needs to stop dragging its heels on this matter."
Since 1995, new teachers or teachers applying for a new position have a criminal record check.
But about 4000 teachers and school staff employed before 1995, who have not moved jobs, are yet to be checked.
The Bracks Government had promised legislation requiring mandatory police checks for all people working with children in 2002.
The law is yet to be introduced.

AAP (27-10-2004)
Paula Beauchamp

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