Community, Crime, Education

Support for sex scandal school in wake of guilty pleas

Coralanne Child. Photo: Supplied.

Education bosses have pledged their ongoing support to a school stricken by an underage sex scandal.

Students at a Blenheim high school are a “top priority” say Ministry of Education staff after a former member of staff pleaded guilty to having sex with minors.

In the wake of her guilty pleas, acting deputy secretary, sector enablement and support Coralanne Child says support to those affected is ongoing.

“The safety and wellbeing of students is a top priority for us, as it is for boards of trustees, parents and whānau.

“In this case, we continue to offer our support to the school and its board as it moves past this challenging event,” she says.

The woman, who cannot be named, admitted seven counts of having sex with minors, and two of sending sexual images and video to minors, at the Blenheim District Court last week.

She was convicted and bailed for sentencing.

Her registration with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand has been cancelled though she may be eligible to apply again.

A spokeswoman from the council says no formal hearing will be held though the former teacher will be told officially that she has been struck from the register.

“A person with a cancelled teacher registration is able to apply for registration again.

“However, if they have been convicted of a specified offence, they must first be granted an exemption by the Ministry of Social Development.

“Then the person may apply to the Teaching Council for registration and we review and consider if the person meets our registration requirements,” she says.

The school’s Board of Trustees welcomed the woman’s guilty pleas, saying it “ensures justice” for all those caught up in the case.

In a letter to parents, the chairman of the Board of Trustees says he hopes the move will “provide closure.”

“Her actions breached the trust of so many and it is appropriate that she has taken sole responsibility by pleading guilty,” he says.

He added that he hoped sentencing at the end of the year would allow people to move forward.

“I am very thankful that this matter will be concluded before the end of the year for the sake of our community, staff, parents and boys.“I would like to thank the police and all of the other agencies involved in this case for their diligence and their care during this very difficult time … and ensuring that this did not impact on the wider student body of our college,” he says.

But not everyone has been happy with the handling of the case, with one worried parent branding it “disgusting”.

The woman, who asked not to be named, says the scandal was felt by the wider community.

She says the guilty woman seemingly showed no remorse for her actions and was spotted at several public events, including junior rugby games.

“Talk about allowing her access to a smorgasbord of underage boys.

“I’m not comfortable with her being allowed to watch my boy play rugby and I know other parents feel the same.

“If this was a male teacher who was accused of having sex with underage girls- I highly doubt he would be allowed down the netball courts.

“Those poor boys and their families being made to look like fools by our justice system.”

The woman will appear for sentencing at Blenheim District Court on 17 December.

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