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Government acts on Person A Ministerial Inquiry


Hon Hekia Parata
Minister of Education

21 August 2012
Media Statement

Government acts on Person A Ministerial Inquiry recommendations

Tougher employment checks and improved information sharing are among a number of measures announced by the Government today to tighten-up teacher employment and vetting procedures.

The measures are part of the Government’s response to the Ministerial Inquiry into the employment of convicted sex offender, Henry Te Rito Miki, in the education sector.

“Child safety is an absolute priority. Parents and their children should be able to trust people in positions of responsibility,” Ms Parata says.

The Inquiry, conducted by former ombudsman Mel Smith and former Education Review Office chief executive Dr Judith Aitken made 35 recommendations which have been considered by a cross-Government working party and an implementation plan approved by Cabinet.

The recommendations have been divided into seven key areas:

• The role and functions of the New Zealand Teachers Council
• Name change policy processes
• Identity checks
• Information sharing
• Offender management and police matters
• Education workforce and employment practices
• School governance

Significant work is already underway in a number of these areas.

The 35 recommendations have been split into 39 actions. The Government has accepted or partially accepted 36 actions, of which seven have been already been completed. Three are still being considered.

As the report states, a significant factor in the Miki case was the ease with which he was able to change his name lawfully and adopt numerous aliases.

As a result the Department of Internal Affairs is currently reviewing its policy and processes around name changing and will report back in October.

Subject to the passing of the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill, agencies will explore the possibility of the Department of Internal Affairs sharing relevant name change information with the New Zealand Teacher’s Council (NZTC) and the Ministry of Education.

Eleven of the recommendations relate to the role and functions of the New Zealand Teacher’s Council, which is currently under review, with a report due back in October.

The Ministry of Education has already issued a reminder to Boards and Principals during the process of hiring teachers and support staff about verifying the identity and teaching record of their prospective employees.

To help track high risk offenders the Department of Corrections has, this month, introduced 24-hour Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring.

Ms Parata thanked the Inquiry team and praised the staff and learners of the schools who were involved in the inquiry.

“As acknowledged in the report, Miki’s case was extreme in the lengths he went to manipulate the system and the people who would normally be expected to detect and deal with such behaviour.

“The report showed that the existing identity and employment checking system for bona fide teachers are working, but there are areas that need strengthening overall to prevent the kind of exploitation that this case exposed.

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

For a copy of the Ministerial Inquiry report click here: http://admin.beehive.govt.nz/webfm_send/25

ENDS

Recommendations__Actions.pdf

Final_report_PDF_Person_A_Inquiry.pdf

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