Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Reduction in teacher's penalty for misconduct

The Commission has upheld part of a teacher's challenge to findings made against him by the Department of Education.

The Commission found the teacher had misconducted himself but in a manner that warranted a reduction in the penalty initially imposed.

The Department of Education originally found that the teacher had misconducted himself by making a comment to a student, and in the physical altercation and restraint that ensued, he punched the student in the head.

The Commission found that, in all the circumstances, with contemporaneous reports not clearly mentioning the punch and the teacher’s evidence providing a reasonable alternative, the Department's finding that the teacher punched the student in the head was not safe, fair or reasonable.

The Commission found the teacher made a comment to the student using words to the effect “If you are going to hit me make it your best shot because you won’t get a second chance.”

The Commission rejected the teacher's submissions that in considering the comment the Department had not considered all the circumstances, being that he had made the comment instinctively and without thinking.

The Commission found that the evidence and submissions of the teacher demonstrated the comment was made as a strategy, that the comment led to the altercation and restraint of the student, and that in all the circumstances the teacher had misconducted himself by making the comment.

As the teacher was no longer found to have misconducted himself by punching the student but had misconducted himself by making the comment to the student, the Commission imposed a reduced penalty of a reprimand and a fine of one day’s pay.

The decision can be read here.

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