Seymour versus PPTA president

David Seymour has criticised comments made by PPTA president Angela Roberts regarding serious offending against children. Roberts has attacked back, accusing Seymour of misconstruing her comments, “probably done so deliberately”.

This started with a Newshub report: 54 teachers in 3 years struck off for violations

Official figures obtained by Newshub reveal 75 teachers have been censured and 54 have lost their registration in the past three years for violations including sexual misconduct, assault and sex abuse.

It comes as 10 teachers in September went before the Education Disciplinary Tribunal for violations ranging from inappropriate relationships with students to fraud.

PPTA president Angela Roberts says it’s important for the Education Council to monitor the statistics to pick up any trends.

“They may find that there is an increased trend of teachers who are suffering from significant stress, and some really poor decisions get made,” she told Newshub, “and if that’s something they see a trend is coming through on, then actually how do they respond to that?”

She says it’s important the Education Council has good processes in place to protect teachers and students, as issues can rapidly get thorny.

“It can get really complicated very quickly – do the police need to be involved, is it just an employment issue or is it a registration issue? So there are three bits to it.”

Seymour responded: PPTA president’s comments disgrace her profession

ACT Leader David Seymour says teachers should call for Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) President Angela Roberts’ resignation after her casual dismissal of inappropriate conduct towards students being due to ‘stress.’

“When it suits them, the PPTA claim to be the altruistic guardians of children’s education,“ says Mr Seymour.  “When it is revealed that 10 teachers are being investigated, six for inappropriate conduct, in the past month, the PPTA President had the following to say: ‘They may find that there is an increased trend of teachers who are suffering from significant stress, and some really poor decisions get made.’

“Inappropriate conduct can severely damage a child for life. Over the past three years 75 teachers have been investigated and 54 struck off, but the PPTA show no remorse, simply citing ’stress’ and ’bad decisions.’  It’s a joke.  The thousands of good teachers up and down New Zealand should be outraged and making it clear that these comments are not in their name.

“What she could have said is that the PPTA strongly opposes child abuse by teachers, there is no excuse, and the PPTA will be taking steps to protect children.  Instead, she explains it away as being someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility.

“The PPTA frequently claim that lobbying and strikes are not out of self-interest but concern for children’s education.  These comments, unintentionally perhaps but true all the same, show a union out of control and living in a parallel universe.  The comments are a disgrace for the whole profession and Roberts should either apologise or resign.”

Calling for a resignation seems an extreme response and is usually something that opposition MPs resort to far too often.

However Roberts does sound like she was downplaying abuse by teachers as being mitigated “due to suffering from significant stress, and that “some really poor decisions get made”.

And far more important than monitoring trends is the detection of abuse and appropriate action against teachers found to be abusing children. And even more important that measures are taken to try and prevent abuse happening in the first place.

Many people suffer from stress in workplaces and in homes. Actually we all do to varying degrees. That is no excuse for abusing children.

Fair enough to question Roberts on what she said, but it seems somewhat provocative to call for her resignation.

At NZ Herald in Act leader David Seymour slams comments by PPTA president  Roberts responded:

Roberts told the Herald that Seymour had misconstrued those comments, perhaps deliberately.

They were made as part of a longer interview, and were about the wider issue of dealing with both disciplinary and competency matters, Roberts said.

“If what I had said was, teachers are under stress and they make poor decisions – if I had been referring to cases of serious misconduct, then, yes, that would be dismissive and inappropriate.

“But that wasn’t what I was referring to. I was talking about all cases of deregistration – there is a huge range. There is conduct, but there’s also competence. And I was talking about all cases referred to the council.

“We do need to look at trends…the ones that are about bad people, absolutely those should be dealt with.”

Fair enough to clarify what she meant and the context the comments were made in.

But accusing Seymour of deliberately misconstruing her comments doesn’t help her argument.

And while Roberts has defended her comments she doesn’t appear to have done anything to address her or PPTA views on teacher abuse of children.