School kept quiet over resignation

By THERESA GARNERKing’s College failed to mention pornography or sexual harassment when it informed the teacher standards watchdog that one of its teachers had resigned.And when the Teacher Registration Board tried to find out details about Simon Toon’s resignation, King’s refused to give them.Auckland Grammar, unaware of the allegations against Mr Toon, has employed him for the past two years.He faces a Human Rights Tribunal hearing into gross sexual harassment allegations brought by the woman involved in the initial allegations.Grammar headmaster John Morris said Mr Toon had been given time off to speak to his advisers. He was expected back at school soon.There was no reason to suspend him, said Mr Morris.”He has not been convicted of anything criminal.”Mr Toon resigned from King’s in November 2000 after allegations that he had downloaded pornography on a school computer, and sexually harassed a woman.King’s board chairman Peter Jackson said in a statement that the school had sent a report on the issue to the Teacher Registration Board (since replaced by the Teachers Council), “in strict compliance with the requirements of the relevant legislation”.Teachers Council director Margaret Kouvelis confirmed that a letter had been received on December 20, 2000 advising that Mr Toon had resigned “at the commencement of a disciplinary process initiated because allegations were made relating to the teacher’s behaviour and use of the college’s computer equipment”.King’s did not wish to take the matter any further and was not seeking deregistration.It had not completed the disciplinary process and did not reach any conclusions.King’s sent another letter in August 2001 advising the Teacher Registration Board that the details of the resignation were confidential.Mr Toon, who had taught at Grammar before, was re employed in January 2001. King’s did not tell Grammar about the harassment claims, and Grammar did not check with King’s.Mr Morris said Grammar had followed “the normal procedures”.”He was well known as a top class teacher and a very good colleague. Those checks were done here with the department he worked for previously.”You’ve got to remember that it was in the middle of the holidays and it wasn’t that easy to get hold of anybody, anywhere really.”But we felt we’d done the checks that were needed.”Mr Morris said that in the two years Mr Toon had been back, “he has met every standard that is set by Grammar for its masters”.”He’s been an exemplary employee.”The key point is that all this happened elsewhere, not with us. These events had nothing to do with us.”It seems that people are looking at us, but perhaps you should look somewhere else.”The former principal of King’s College, John Taylor, would not comment and referred calls to Mr Jackson.Mr Jackson referred the Weekend Herald to his statement and said that as far as he was aware, Mr Toon had left King’s to go to Grammar, and he was not forced to resign.Mrs Kouvelis, of the Teachers Council, said any instance where a school came to a private agreement with a teacher was a problem. The council had no power to even consider cancelling a teacher’s registration without a request from the school.The council is working on setting up a complaints assessment committee and a disciplinary tribunal, and will soon have the power to fine a principal $5000 for failing to report serious misconduct.

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