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Criminal Checks Catch 47 Teachers

ONE teacher has been sacked and 46 others are being investigated after criminal history checks revealed they had been charged with serious or repeat offences.
Court transcripts, police records and other evidence is being examined to determine whether it is safe for them to remain in schools. The sacked teacher has been deregistered after checks uncovered an indecent dealing conviction.
Education Minister Anna Bligh said an independent auditor, a former police officer, would finalise checks into the 46 teachers who had been charged with serious offences.
Ms Bligh said this was only a small percentage of the 38,000 teachers checked by the Board of Teacher Registration.
"Overwhelmingly our teachers are of good character," she said. "However an exercise such as this is worth it if it stops even one person of dubious character being close to our children."
The registration board has been conducting background checks into 38,191 of the state's teachers since September to ensure they do not pose a sexual or physical threat.
These teachers previously escaped scrutiny because they were registered before 1998 when compulsory checks began.
Teachers registered after that have been checked.
Teachers also face regular spot checks to reveal any recent criminal behaviour.
Overall, the latest checks found 1002 teachers, or 2.6 per cent, had some sort of criminal history. Most were for minor offences such as shoplifting or drink-driving and 75 per cent were committed more than a decade ago. No action will be taken against these teachers.
Queensland Teachers Union vice-president Steve Ryan yesterday said he was not surprised by the results.
"This is a very low percentage and it does demonstrate that the vast majority of teachers are reputable," he said.
Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Association president Wanda Lambert agreed but welcomed State Government attempts to rid the profession of potentially-dangerous individuals.
"We're very happy that they're attempting to weed out the people who are unsuitable to be there because one is one too many," Ms Lambert said.

Advertiser Newspapers Ltd (22-3-2004)
Rosemary Odgers

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