1493695986131 - Hamilton teacher disciplined after assaulting student who disobeyed her

Hamilton teacher disciplined after assaulting student who disobeyed her

A Hamilton teacher who pinned a student against the wall by the scruff of her neck has kept her job.

Karlene Dianne Mackey is a high school teacher at Nga Taiatea Wharekura in Hamilton. 

In April last year, Mackey and a 14-year-old student were involved in a heated argument in the classroom.

In a decision released by the Education Council, Mackey said she became angry with the student after she disobeyed her instructions and laughed at her.

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“As we were stepping outside, she continued laughing, which made me really angry, so I pinned her up against the wall,” Mackey told the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal.

The student had been disruptive in class and Mackey had asked her to focus on her work. 

After several failed attempts, Mackey invited the student outside for a “mini chat”.

As they walked outside, the student laughed, making Mackey feel disrespected and angry.

Mackey then pushed the student against the wall and put her forearm across the student’s chest. 

The pair began to argue – both were yelling and both were swearing, according to the summary.

The altercation was witnessed by staff members, who told the principal. 

The student’s parents also found out what happened that day and emailed the principal to arrange a meeting.

Mackey attended a restorative hui with the principal and the parents, where she apologised. 

Mackey said the student got her at her “weakest point” and that she was under financial stress.

The principal of Nga Taiatea issued Mackey with a final written warning, imposed conditions on her which included attending professional development focusing on classroom and behaviour management and completing anger management counselling. 

At the tribunal, held in February, Mackey accepted her behaviour constituted serious misconduct. 

The parents of the student also filed a letter to the tribunal and outlined their concerns about Mackey remaining a teacher. 

They said they were not confident Mackey would be able to “exercise the self control required of teachers”.

The tribunal allowed Mackey to continue to teach and noted that, since the incident, she and the student had been in the same classroom together with no further incidents. 

Mackey had conditions imposed on her practising certificate and has to undertake supervision for 18 months and also has to consent to that supervisor reporting to the council every six months. 

She was also censured and asked to pay 50 per cent of the tribunal’s costs.