21 Mar 2013

Call for end to Teachers' Council secrecy

5:03 pm on 21 March 2013

MPs have been asked to abolish rules that automatically suppress the details of teachers' disciplinary hearings.

The rules governing the New Zealand Teachers Council's Disciplinary Tribunal prevent publication of information from its hearings without the tribunal's permission.

Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler told the Parliament's Regulations Review Select Committee that is an unacceptable limitation on freedom of expression.

In another submission, the President of the Secondary Principals Association, Patrick Walsh, suggested the hearings should be held in public and he called for teachers found guilty of serious misconduct and subject to disqualification to be named.

He said that information was of legitimate public interest and parents had a right to know.

He said, however, that the tribunal had a right to suppress the names of schools and students involved.

At the moment the tribunal publishes decisions with the names of teachers, schools and witnesses deleted.

Director of the Teachers Council, Peter Lind, defends that approach saying the rules were made to protect witnesses, particularly children.