‘Sexting’ high school teacher may be given job back after winning appeal

by: Tony Keim  From: The Courier-Mail  July 17, 2012 2:56PM

 

 
A HIGH school teacher banned for working for three years for “sexting” and kissing a teenage student has won an appeal that could see him return to teaching early next year.
The teacher was banned after sending up to 1000 sexualised and overly familiar text messages in a month to one of his Year 11 students after being instructed by colleagues to give her “special guidance.”

The Courier-Mail in November revealed the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered the teacher’s registration be cancelled after he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the female student – then said to have been aged between 14 and 15 – between late 2010 year and early 2011.

However, the teacher appealed the decision and was last month granted the right to re-apply for his registration of permission to teach from February 19 next year.

 

QCAT president Justice Alan Wilson and member Dr John Forbes, in a just-published 11-page decision, granted the teacher – identifiable only as “Teacher J” – leave to appeal, set aside the original three year ban and replaced it with a prohibition from registration until next year.

Justice Wilson also made a non-publication order – banning the media from identifying the teacher who was previously named in an earlier order.

“In 2010 (Teacher J) was a teacher at a school for girls in a Queensland provincial town,” Dr Forbes said in his written decision.

“In February 2011 his registration was suspended by the (Queensland College of Teachers) on the ground he posed an imminent risk of harm to children.

“On 3 November 2011, this Tribunal found that (Teacher J) was not a person suitable to teach, in view of his improper association with a pupil, to whom I shall apply the pseudonym ‘Jane’.”

Teacher J did not contest the issue of his guilt, the tribunal was told.

Dr Forbes said the teacher became involved with “Jane” at the insistence of colleagues because her “home environment was such that she should receive special guidance.”

He said Teacher J and “Jane” became very close, so much so one teacher warned against “unduly close” student-teacher relationships during a study tour to the US.

The tribunal was told the relationship escalated to the point where “Jane” kissed Teacher J in a manner that was “passionate … but nothing you know, really, really serious.”

“Around Christmas (2010) “Jane” and (Teacher J) began texting each other,” Dr Forbes said.

“Between that time and 30 January 2011 they texted intensively … (with) as many as 1000 communications by that means.”

He said some of the messages were unexceptional, involving subjects such as school work, babysitting and Test cricket, but there were some that were of a sexual nature.

The relationship was eventually revealed when an intoxicated “Jane” told two school mates she was in love with Teacher J and that they were having a relationship.

Dr Forbes, in granting the appeal, said it was an undisputed fact “Jane” was 16 years old two months before the “misconduct in question” began.

“While sexual misconduct by a teacher with an under-age child certainly warrants a significant disciplinary sanction, a somewhat less severe sanction may be warranted when the same conduct occurs with a pupil over the age of consent, who is readily, even eagerly consenting,” he said.

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