Teachers are being accused of unprofessional and criminal behaviour like never before. The rise in accusations is alarming and a clear indicator that the punishments metered out against them are not substantial enough:
Serious misconduct allegations against Education Department staff rose 40 per cent last year amid sharp increases in accusations of inappropriate online or sexualised contact with students, physical assault and fraud or theft.
The statistics have prompted the teachers’ union to remind members they are not students’ friends and should never accept social media approaches from them.
Misconduct allegations against State school staff are automatically referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission for external oversight.
Lower level allegations are resolved at school or district level, with the Education Department’s head office keeping an eye on them. More serious accusations go straight to head office.
The department’s latest annual report reveals that these centrally managed allegations increased sharply from 268 and 276 in the previous two years to 385 in 2014-15.
The biggest single-year increase was a 74 per cent jump in allegations of in-appropriate behaviour, which can range from accusations of inappropriate contact via social media to alleged “sexualised contact with students”.
These leapt from 84 allegations in 2013-14 to 146 last financial year. In the past three financial years, physical assault allegations have risen from 55 to 78 to 106, while fraud and theft accusations have risen from 18 to 24 to 32.
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