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Ministerial Inquiry to be established


Hon Hekia Parata
Minister of Education

28 February 2012 Media Statement
Ministerial Inquiry to be established
There will be a Ministerial Inquiry into the employment of a convicted sex offender in the education sector, Education Minister, Hekia Parata, announced today.

The inquiry has been initiated after Ministers were informed late last week that a convicted sex offender had been arrested while allegedly in breach of the offender’s conditions of release. The individual was working in the education sector.

Following Ministerial approval today, the inquiry will be conducted by former ombudsman Mel Smith. It will look at how and the specific means by which [Person A – name withheld] was able to exploit opportunities in the system as well as how the system can be strengthened to prevent this happening again.

“At this stage, I cannot discuss the details of this individual case as the matter is now before the courts and therefore there is very little information that can be made publicly available at this point. However, I am extremely concerned by the details of this case,” says Ms Parata.

“Parents should be able to send their children to school confident that an individual of this type is not part of the school environment.’’

Person A is in custody.

“The schools that were immediately affected have been notified. School communities have been informed and the Ministry of Education is actively working with those schools. It is possible that several other schools have also been affected,'' says Ms Parata.



“We have asked the courts to vary suppression orders so that we can work with other schools that may have been affected and they can inform parents.''

Ms Parata has asked for the inquiry to report back no later than 30 April 2012.


Note: Terms of Reference for the Ministerial Inquiry attached below


Terms of Reference for the Ministerial Inquiry


What are we trying to achieve?

• The specific points at which, and the specific means by which [Person A] was able to exploit opportunities in the system.
• How we strengthen the system to prevent this happening again.
• Identify any specific issues that systematically need to be addressed.
• Determine how to further strengthen the system to ensure such an exploitation does not happen again.

Terms of Reference

1. With regard to the actions of this alleged offender, the review will explore how the system was manipulated, including:

a. Teacher Council involvement in employee vetting and registration
i. Legislative requirements
ii. Capability and capacity to deliver
iii. Interoperability of government agencies

b. Wider government departments
i. Current legal obligations to share information
ii. The effectiveness of inter-agency collaboration
iii. Effectiveness of protocols in place to manage a failure in the system

c. Process schools undertake with regard to vetting prospective employees
i. Legislative requirements
ii. School policies (BOT)
iii. Capability and capacity to deliver
iv. Does Ministry/ERO review such policies?

d. Whether the individuals and agencies involved in the case shared information effectively or not? If not, why not? Did the individuals have a clear understanding of the law around information sharing?

e. How the Terms of Reference for the current review of the Teachers Council could possibly be amended to reflect the recommendations of this review?

f. Any other matters you might identify that you believe should be brought to my attention?

2. Any information or advice requiring urgent action by the Government will be brought to the Minister of Education’s attention immediately, to ensure appropriate steps can be taken to ensure the integrity of the registration system.

Report back to Ministers

30 April 2012.


ENDS

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