AS head, I have received complaints that a woman teacher behaved badly and sexually harassed Year 10 boys during a residential visit. What should I do?
THE response must be the same as if it were a case involving a male teacher and female pupils.
The role of the head in such cases is restricted to establishing if the allegation is feasible: that is, whether the circumstances were such that the alleged misconduct could have taken place.
If it could have happened, then the matter must be referred to the Child Protection Agency, who will investigate. You must suspend any other investigation of the matter until the CPA has done its work and you should pass to them any relevant documents, including complaint letters.
In consultation with the CPA you must decide whether to suspend the teacher pending the outcome of the inquiry, a step which will be taken in the light of the seriousness of the allegation, the possibility of interference with the investigation and any embarrassment which may be caused by not doing so.
Regardless of what the CPA decides, you may have to conduct your own investigation into the matter later, because the teacher concerned may have committed a disciplinary offence, even though criminal proceedings are deemed inappropriate.
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