A Hawke’s Bay teacher accused of hitting a student had previously been warned for using physical contact to manage children, a disciplinary hearing has been told.
An Education Council complaints assessment committee alleges that in July 2015 the teacher hit the year 3 student on his legs and back, and pulled his ear.
The teacher appeared at a disciplinary tribunal hearing in Napier on Tuesday. Her name and the name of the school where she teaches are suppressed.
The school’s principal told the hearing she had worked with the teacher for 15 years.
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The teacher had previously been warned for physically restraining and using aggressive language with students on at least three occasions, according to the principal.
The teacher was given a final written warning after the July 2015 incident but the principal said she continued to receive complaints about the teacher’s behaviour towards students. The most recent complaint was raised this week.
Asked why parents had complained, the principal told the tribunal: “It’s because their child has come home [on a Monday] and doesn’t want to go back to school on a Tuesday.”
The principal said the teacher could be “firm” in her direction to children and at times her tone was not appropriate.
“It can be a tone that can scare the kids,” she said.
But an associate teacher who was in the classroom when the alleged ear-pulling occurred said she did not believe the teacher had intended to grab the child by the ear, and thought she may have meant to pull his clothing.
The associate teacher said she had never seen the accused teacher hit a child.
“She’s not a wicked witch as some are making her out to be.”
The boy whose ear was pulled laughed the incident off, she said.
“He just sat down and thought it was funny … it didn’t faze him at all,” the associate teacher told the tribunal.
The boy whose ear the teacher was accused of hitting often misbehaved, did not do what he was told and was an attention-seeker, she said.
Another teacher at the school, whose classroom was near the accused teacher’s room, said she had never heard her use other than a “normal teacher tone” with her class.
The chair of the school’s board of trustees said while there had been times of “tension” created by the teacher, she had also contributed positively during her long employment at the school.
The hearing continues on Wednesday.