Teacher stripped of classroom duties after 49 complaints – the importance of the selection and interviewing process in achieving “best fit” employees

A teacher who allegedly let students play knife games, stored beer in a classroom fridge and asked a girl if she had her period has been barred from teaching.

The teacher taught at a high school in Melbourne’s northern suburbs for three terms in 2013 and was the subject of 49 formal complaints during that time.

 

The litany of complaints was detailed in a decision handed down by the Victorian Institute of Teaching, which found that the teacher had engaged in misconduct and cancelled his registration as of March 11.

The former chef allegedly told a female student that “girls need to clean up after the boys.”

Another student said he told her to “drink a cup of concrete and harden up” when she asked for some help on a recipe.

Students also complained that the teacher ate all the food they made in the cooking class.

It was alleged that the teacher pulled a baseball hat over his head and nodded off on a train while he was meant to be supervising students on an excursion. He was also accused of losing a student’s work, storing beer in a fridge in the classroom, and letting Year 12 food technology students watch Border Security. He allegedly posted a photo on the school’s staff portal of a student in his class ‘playfully’ threatening another student with a knife.

The food technology teacher was also accused of asking a student, “Do you have your period?” when she asked to use the bathroom. One teacher described his teaching style as “disorganised” and “haphazard.”

In an email provided to the hearing, another teacher spoke of how she smelt smoke in the corridor and asked the teacher if anything was on fire – ‘seconds later, he came into the prep room and confirmed that a student had set [another] student’s workbook on fire.’ It was also alleged that he let students play a knife game in class ‘where they used a fork to stab between their fingers as quickly as possible.’

The school acted within a few weeks of the teacher commencing his job, and tried to provide support to improve his teaching practices. The Department of Education terminated his employment after an unsatisfactory probationary period at the end of term 3, 2013.

The school’s principal gave evidence at the hearings, and said the teacher made “disparaging remarks about the school being run by ‘power crazed women’.”

The teacher did not attend the formal hearing, but provided written evidence to the merit protection board and responded to the principal’s complaints. He denied sleeping on the train and said he had a stress headache made worse by sunlight, which is why he pulled his cap over his eyes. The teacher denied posting the photos of students playing with the knives and said students had occasionally used his computer for various reasons.

He said he would not have asked a girl if she had her period and encouraged students to become independent learners. The sacked teacher said he was being punished for not implementing the school’s rigid teaching model focused on explicit instruction, “spoon feeding” and rote learning.

But the VIT disciplinary panel said the teacher was “simply unable to provide a safe and supportive environment, either physically or psychologically, for effective learning to occur.”

It appears that this particular teacher was a very bad hire indeed, underlining the importance of sound selection and interviewing processes.

iHR’s Selection and Interviewing Skills Training program is ideal for those new to a recruitment role and line managers. It will help participants develop their interviewing skills to select the right person and avoid the costs of poor performance and expensive unfair dismissal processes.

 

 

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