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- Unreported Judgment
Queensland College of Teachers v WXY QCAT 42
QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Queensland College of Teachers v WXY  QCAT 42
QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS
Occupational regulation matters
26 February 2019
On the papers
Senior Member Aughterson
EDUCATION – TRAINING AND REGISTRATION OF TEACHERS – where teacher engaged in a sexual relationship with a vulnerable former student within 3-4 months of year 12 graduation – where former student approaching 19 years of age when sexual relationship began - whether teacher’s conduct satisfies the standard of behaviour generally expected of a teacher
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS – QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL – whether non-publication order should be made – where order necessary in the interests of justice for the protection of a vulnerable young person and potentially the mental health of the former teacher – where exceptions required for the protection of future students
Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld), ss 92(1)(h), 158(2), 161
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 66
Queensland College of Teachers v ABC  QCAT 56 Queensland College of Teachers v FDA  QCAT 224
C Lloyd, Principal Legal Officer, Queensland College of Teachers
This matter was heard and determined on the papers pursuant to s 32 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld).
REASONS FOR DECISION
- The Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) suspended the respondent’s registration as a teacher on 5 July 2017.
- QCT and the respondent agree that:
- (a)a ground for disciplinary action is established;
- (b)the appropriate sanction is that the respondent be prohibited from applying for registration as a teacher or for permission to teach for a period of four years from the date of the suspension;
- (c)a notation be made in the register of teachers in the terms set out in the Tribunal’s Order 2;
- (d)a non-publication order should be made, subject to the terms of the Tribunal’s Order 4.
- We are satisfied that a ground for disciplinary action is established and that the proposed orders are appropriate. Our reasons follow.
- Under section 92(1)(h) of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld), the following is a ground for disciplinary action:
- (h)the person behaves in a way, whether connected with the teaching profession or otherwise, that does not satisfy the standard of behaviour generally expected of a teacher
- Upon referral of a matter to the Tribunal by the QCT, the Tribunal, if it decides that that a ground for disciplinary behaviour is established, may make orders it considers appropriate: s 161. In deciding whether there is a ground for disciplinary action, the Tribunal must have regard to any relevant previous decision of which it is aware: s 158(2).
- The Tribunal may make an order preventing the identification of any person where it considers the order is necessary to avoid endangering the mental health of a person or in the interests of justice.
- The QCT and the respondent filed an Agreed Statement of Facts.
- The agreed facts include:
- (a)The respondent was first registered as a teacher in 2006.
- (b)From 2012 until his registration was suspended by the QCT on 5 July 2017, the respondent was employed in the Special Education Program (SEP) at a high school.
- (c)In 2012, the respondent was the SEP Program Manager for a female student who was enrolled in the SEP due to a speech language impairment processing disorder requiring one-on-one and small group intervention and adjustments to support her needs.
- (d)During that year, the student developed a romantic crush on the respondent. The respondent advised the school’s head of special education services that the student had obtained his mobile telephone number from her parents’ phone (the respondent having liaised with the parents with respect to her schooling) and was texting him, which he was uncomfortable about.
- (e)Consequently, the student was instructed to refrain from contacting the respondent and was allocated a new SEP Program Manager from the start of the 2013 school year.
- (f)The student graduated from year 12 in November 2014. She was 18 years of age at the time, turning 19 approximately 4-5 months after graduating.
- (g)In January 2015, the student contacted the respondent on social media and they subsequently commenced a sexual relationship which continued intermittently for over two years. At the time, the respondent was aged in his late Thirties.
- Although the then former student was approaching 19 years of age when the sexual relationship began in early 2015, she was a vulnerable young person and the respondent agrees that there was a residual power imbalance.
- We are satisfied, as the QCT and the respondent have agreed, that commencing a sexual relationship with a vulnerable former student within a short period after the end of her schooling is behaviour that does not satisfy the standard of behaviour generally expected of a teacher. This is consistent with other decisions, drawn to our attention by the QCT, in which teachers commenced sexual relationships with former students. A ground for disciplinary action is therefore established.
- We are also satisfied that the proposed orders are appropriate in the circumstances. They are within the range of orders made in other broadly comparable decisions drawn to our attention by the QCT. For the protection of vulnerable young people, the orders provide deterrence against teachers generally, and the respondent in particular, entering into sexual relationships with vulnerable former students.
- We are also satisfied that a non-publication order is appropriate in the interests of the well-being of the former student and perhaps also the respondent’s mental health, which appears to be fragile. It is in the interests of justice that the former student be protected from the potentially adverse effect of publication of details of the relationship and having regard to her vulnerability when the relationship began. The exceptions permitting QCT to communicate our decision and reasons to future employers and regulatory officials are necessary for the protection of students in the future.
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 66.
The respondent’s registration was cancelled on 8 May 2018 following his failure to pay the annual registration fee.
See, for example, Queensland College of Teachers v ABC  QCAT 56 and Queensland College of Teachers v FDA  QCAT 224.
- Published Case Name:
Queensland College of Teachers v WXY
- Shortened Case Name:
Queensland College of Teachers v WXY
 QCAT 42
Senior Member Aughterson, Member Grigg, Member Olding
26 Feb 2019