Flaxmere College teacher censured for viewing porn on school computer

Author
Simon Collins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 7 Jun 2020, 1:58PM
Flaxmere College was the start of a "march for life" in 2013; now a teacher there has been found accessing porn on a school laptop in 2017. (Photo / File)
Flaxmere College was the start of a "march for life" in 2013; now a teacher there has been found accessing porn on a school laptop in 2017. (Photo / File)

Flaxmere College teacher censured for viewing porn on school computer

Author
Simon Collins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 7 Jun 2020, 1:58PM

A teacher at Hawke's Bay's Flaxmere College has been censured for viewing pornography on his school laptop.

The man, whose name was suppressed, visited at least 20 named pornographic and dating sites between 2015 and 2017.

He was dismissed in May 2017 after the school principal found out about it and referred the case to the Teaching Council.

A Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal decision has only just been issued after dealing with the teacher's late application for name suppression based on the potential effects in his teenage son and daughter if his name was published.

An agreed statement of facts states that "forensic examination of the school laptop revealed that the respondent had used the laptop to undertake extensive web surfing, including pornographic websites, adult pornographic dating websites and web chat sites".

"The search terms used include 'sexting site', 'compilation porn' and 'doggystyle
compilation porn,'" it said.

"One of the pornographic videos located was titled 'Big Tits at School Compilation',
which had been accessed by the respondent on March 27, 2017 at 4.23am."

The statement said no images were found to have been intentionally stored on the laptop, but many of the sites "were not secure websites and could cause considerable harm to the school computer network, as they download extremely intrusive cookies. This created the risk that the cookies would migrate to the school server if the school's firewalls and virus detection software did not detect them."

The school principal received complaints about the matter on March 24 and 27, 2017, and asked the teacher on March 27 to return the laptop.

When he had not returned the computer by April 3, the principal went to his house and picked it up personally.

The forensic examination found that the teacher had "attempted to erase any trace of the material".

"He removed the material from the laptop's recycle bins and ran the following programs or systems utilities: Defrag; Disc Clean-up; and Clean manage."

"The respondent admitted to using pornography on the school-issued laptop and stated he 'accepts with hindsight that it would have been better if he had not viewed pornography on the school laptop,'" the agreed statement said.

"The respondent, however, denied that he did so from the school location at any time.

"The respondent does admit to attempting to conceal his accessing of pornography from investigation by 'cleaning' his viewing record off the school laptop. He admitted to the Education Council that this was driven by his embarrassment as a result of his actions."

The tribunal accepted that there was no evidence that the teacher viewed porn at school, so the chances of any students seeing the material was "remote".

It said, in paragraph 34 of its decision, that the sites the teacher visited "raises questions about the respondent's fitness to practise".

"Several include 'mom' in the URL, and one, 'granny. One of the videos, referred to paragraph 7 of the agreed statement of facts, is called 'Big Tits at School Compilation'," it said.

"We are satisfied that reasonable members of the public, informed of all the facts and circumstances, could reasonably conclude that the reputation and good standing of the teaching profession was lowered by the behaviour of the respondent," it concluded.

"In particular:

• "The nature of some of the sites visited by the respondent, as outlined above at paragraph 34 is of concern;

• "Parents and the community at large do not expect school property to be used for accessing pornography.

• "The respondent lacked integrity by using school equipment for something which he knew, or ought to have known was not acceptable. This knowledge is evidenced by his decision to try to wipe the evidence."

The tribunal censured the teacher and ordered that, for the next two years, he must provide a copy of the decision to any school that employs him and "immediately hand over any school-issued electronic device to the school on request".

It also ordered him to attend, within six months, a professional development course "addressing the safe use of electronic devices".