Teacher Affair Rows
THREE teachers proven to have had inappropriate
relationships with students continue to
work in Tasmanian schools.
The teachers were reprimanded after complaints
about their inappropriate relationships with
students were upheld, Education Minister Paula
Wriedt said yesterday.
She said the Education Department's system for
dealing with complaints relating to inappropriate
teacher-student relationships was successful.
"I want to assure the community the current
arrangements have been successful in investigating
allegations that have arisen in the past and that
where allegations are proven, appropriate action is taken," she said.
A teacher has been charged by police in relation
to an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Ms Wriedt said that since 1990, there had been 13
complaints lodged with the Education Department
about inappropriate relationships with students.
Nine complaints were upheld, three were not proven
and one was the subject of prosecution.
"In the nine complaints upheld, two teachers were
dismissed, two resigned before disciplinary action
was completed, two temporary teachers were not
re-employed and three were reprimanded," Ms Wriedt said.
"So it is clear the Department of Education takes
these matters very seriously."
When asked how it was acceptable that teachers who
had had inappropriate relationships with students
were let off with only a reprimand, Ms
Wriedt said: "It's difficult to give an
answer without going into cases and identifying
individuals but every case is looked at individually
and an inappropriate relationship does
not mean a sexual relationship.
"It can mean a range of different things
and there is also the question of whether
the students involved were of a legal age or whether they were under age."
Ms Wriedt made the revelations at a press
conference to announce moves to clarify teacher conduct standards in Tasmania.
She denied yesterday's press conference
had been conceived to improve her credibility
after ill-advised comments about teacher-student relationships earlier this year.
In January, Ms Wriedt suggested sexual
relationships between teachers and students
were more acceptable a decade ago.
She was defending the department's handling
of an incident in the early 1990s in which a
college teacher had affairs with two teenage girls he met where he taught.
Ms Wriedt, who later apologised, described
the situation as complex, saying it occurred
over a decade ago and "since that time, society's attitudes have shifted enormously".
Heather Low Choy