Howick Intermediate School has apologised after a relief teacher checked the pockets and patted down a classroom of students.
A parent of one of the children who wishes to remain unnamed said a substitute teacher “lined all the students of a class up, got them to close their eyes and patted down each of these students to search for some money which had been stolen from other students”.
The teacher was searching for $10 and $15 that had allegedly been stolen from two children’s jackets.
The incident occurred at around 3pm on Wednesday May 26. The parent said the teacher patted down the chest shirt pockets and pants pockets of both boys and girls in a composite class of year 7 and 8 students.
“She found nothing,” the parent said.
He said the teacher got them to close their eyes then she closed her own eyes.
To make it worse, the parent claimed, another teacher came in, saw what was occurring and told her she couldn’t do that. According to the parent, her reply was “that she could and continued to search the children”.
“This is obviously a gross breach of the Education Act,” the parent said. “How do you know where you’re putting your hands on a child if you have your eyes closed?”
The concerned parent said that the teacher was “back on the following day teaching another class”.
“Most people find it unbelievable that she wasn’t stood down for any period of time for this to be sorted and further training given,” the parent said.
The principal Sara Pickering confirmed to the Times that a relieving teacher did check the pockets of a class of students looking for lost property.
“Unfortunately, this did breach our school policy and our expectations,” Pickering said. “We have reiterated this to the teacher concerned.”
After she was informed of the incident “we apologised to the class of students and assured them that it will not occur again,” Pickering said.
She also spoke to a couple of parents who contacted her about the incident.
On whether the relieving teacher has been let go or punished, Pickering said, “I cannot comment on an individual” but she confirms that “this will not be repeated”.
The Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Police have confirmed they’ve had no reports of the incident.
“We followed up with the school to see if they required any further support,” Katrina Casey, the Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary of Sector Enablement and Support, said.
“They are confident that the issue has been effectively managed and resolved.”
Casey said the school has clear policies and procedures in place to respond to what occurred. “They addressed the concerns raised with them appropriately,” she said.