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Teacher Affair Rows

THREE teachers proven to have had inappropriate relationships with students continue to work in Tasmanian schools.
The teachers were reprimanded after complaints about their inappropriate relationships with students were upheld, Education Minister Paula Wriedt said yesterday. She said the Education Department's system for dealing with complaints relating to inappropriate teacher-student relationships was successful.
"I want to assure the community the current arrangements have been successful in investigating allegations that have arisen in the past and that where allegations are proven, appropriate action is taken," she said.
A teacher has been charged by police in relation to an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Ms Wriedt said that since 1990, there had been 13 complaints lodged with the Education Department about inappropriate relationships with students.
Nine complaints were upheld, three were not proven and one was the subject of prosecution.
"In the nine complaints upheld, two teachers were dismissed, two resigned before disciplinary action was completed, two temporary teachers were not re-employed and three were reprimanded," Ms Wriedt said.
"So it is clear the Department of Education takes these matters very seriously."
When asked how it was acceptable that teachers who had had inappropriate relationships with students were let off with only a reprimand, Ms Wriedt said: "It's difficult to give an answer without going into cases and identifying individuals but every case is looked at individually and an inappropriate relationship does not mean a sexual relationship.
"It can mean a range of different things and there is also the question of whether the students involved were of a legal age or whether they were under age."
Ms Wriedt made the revelations at a press conference to announce moves to clarify teacher conduct standards in Tasmania.
She denied yesterday's press conference had been conceived to improve her credibility after ill-advised comments about teacher-student relationships earlier this year.
In January, Ms Wriedt suggested sexual relationships between teachers and students were more acceptable a decade ago.
She was defending the department's handling of an incident in the early 1990s in which a college teacher had affairs with two teenage girls he met where he taught.
Ms Wriedt, who later apologised, described the situation as complex, saying it occurred over a decade ago and "since that time, society's attitudes have shifted enormously".

AAP (4-3-2005)
Heather Low Choy

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