14 Nov 2012

Police accused of failing over concerns about teacher

8:49 pm on 14 November 2012

The principal of a Far North school says police never formally investigated her concerns about the disgraced teacher James Parker.

Fiona Lovatt-Davis was the head of Oturu Primary School in 1999, when James Parker, who has admitted dozens of sexual offences against young boys from neighbouring Pamapuria School, was a probationary teacher.

Parker, 37, has admitted 49 charges, and has been charged with another 23 offences, four of them sexual violation. One charge is about alleged abuse in 1999.

Ms Lovatt-Davis says Parker's girlfriend at the time told her Parker would leave their bed to sleep with boys staying overnight in the living room.

She says she reported this in writing to police, but they didn't question the children.

Instead, she says a youth aid officer called Parker out into the school carpark, shoved him and spoke harshly to him.

The former principal says she was then vilified by parents who thought she had some sort of vendetta against the young teacher.

She refused to sign off Parker's teacher registration, but says he was offered a job at Pamapuria with support from the local teacher's union field representative and gained it there in 1999.

Ms Lovatt-Davis now lives in Nigeria but is visiting New Zealand. She contacted Radio New Zealand to insist she did all she could to alert police.

Pamapuria principal a 'scapegoat'

The former chairman of the Pamapuria School Board of Trustees says Government agencies who failed to stop Parker are trying to make a scapegoat of the principal.

Ian Bamber, who became board chair last year, says an inquiry by the Ministry of Education tries to blame the principal, Stephen Hovell.

He says Mr Hovell was an excellent principal and everyone who had an opportunity to investigate and stop the abuse, failed to do so.

He says that includes the ministry; the police; the Teachers Council; Child, Youth and Family; the School Trustees Association and the board itself.

Mr Bamber says Pamapuria School is in crisis. He says children who adored Parker are now acting up, have had no help from Child, Youth and Family or counsellors, and have been forbidden to talk at school about what happened to them.

Parker is due to reappear in Kaitaia District Court on Thursday.