A teacher has been censured after slapping a student in a moment of “pure frustration”.
The teacher said the act of violence against the 11-year-old, who is her grandson, was out of character. She has since had counselling for anger management.
The New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal suppressed her name and identifying details to protect the child’s privacy.
The teacher oversaw a money collection for the family of a student whose parent had died. She briefly left two envelopes containing nearly $1300 on her desk while she collected more donations.
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Finding the envelopes missing on her return, she “panicked” and asked her students to check their desks and bags, the tribunal’s decision said.
Her grandson giggled as she outlined details of the funeral service for the parent to the class.
She asked him “do you think this is a joke” before slapping his face. The child cried, ashamed to be slapped in front of his peers.
She later said she lashed out at him out of “feelings of pure frustration and worry”.
“I admit I lost control momentarily and I accept that I lost respect in that instance.”
She said the slap was “as isolated event during stressful circumstances”.
The tribunal recognised the teacher had no record of prior misconduct and that her relationship to the child blurred the line between her professional and domestic life.
It said this was “a clear-cut case” of physical abuse.
“This was an assault and one involving an element of violence triggered by the respondent’s loss off composure when faced with [the student’s] challenging behaviour.”
It said she exercised poor professional judgment by counting the donations in class, saying there was a “direct nexus between that decision and the assault”.
The teacher was ordered to undergo six months of mentoring.