OUTRAGED parents have scored a win in their protest over a public schoolteacher who is married to a convicted child rapist, with the Education Department revealing late today the teacher has pulled the pin on her position.
The Sunday Times reported last week that a storm of controversy over the teacher’s position was brewing, with parents complaining to the Education Minister, department, Attorney-General and school principal as well as expressing their frustration online.
They argued the teacher needed to be removed from the classroom because anyone who supported a convicted child sex offender should not be working with children.
This afternoon, the Education Department confirmed the principal of the school in Perth’s eastern suburbs had sent a letter to parents advising them that the teacher “has decided not to continue in her teaching position at our school”.
“For the duration of her contract with the department, she will be undertaking non-school based duties,” the principal stated.
The teacher had been backed by the department and teachers’ union to continue her teaching role amid the furore, with the only action being taken by the department last week was issuing a ban on the teacher’s husband from entering school grounds for any reason and ordering his wife not to provide him with access to any school information.
It is understood parents staged a protest today, with up to 30 children deliberately kept from attending school – most of the students being from the teacher’s class.
“In the meantime, a relief teacher has been arranged to take the class, until a replacement teacher is appointed for the remainder of the year,” the principal told parents in his letter.
“Please be assured I will do everything possible to ensure your child’s education continues smoothly during the time.”
The teacher, her husband and the school in question cannot be named for legal reasons.
Last week, the teacher’s husband told The Sunday Times that he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about; his wife had done nothing wrong and shouldn’t be punished because of him.
“I’ve done my time, I’ve done my crime. I just want to move on,” he said. “You need to understand that careers are involved too, livelihoods.”
The man was sentenced to 5½ years in jail for raping a 13-year-old girl staying at the couple’s home and taking an indecent photograph of her in 2008.
Parents have called for a no-fraternisation policy to be in place at WA schools, forbidding staff from having any association with convicted dangerous criminals. But Education Minister Sue Ellery does not support that idea, saying it would be impossible to police.
This week, a parent at the school said he was “extremely disappointed and angry that this situation can be allowed to occur”.
He claimed at a P&C meeting earlier this week the school principal admitted to parents that the teacher had disclosed she was married to a convicted child sex offender before she was offered the job.
“This decision is difficult to understand and could only have led to conflict and disunity in what is otherwise a strong community-based school,” he said.
Last week, State School Teachers’ Union of WA president Pat Byrne said there was no suggestion this teacher was anything but “competent and professional”.