The embattled Education Department’s latest controversy broadened today with claims the Premier’s office was contacted about the $30,000 hush money deal late last month.
The Premier told parliament yesterday he was made personally aware of the matter on Monday.
Education Minister Jennifer Rankine confirmed the matter had been referred by the Premier’s staff to her office for action, after the student involved contacted Weatherill’s office on 29 September.
The case – which dates back to 2004 – has already taken several twists in recent days.
A teacher who was found to have used a student’s log-in to access pornographic images was stood down by Education Department boss Tony Harrison yesterday.
Earlier, The Australian published details of how the teacher viewed hundreds of porn websites using the log-in of the then Year 10 student in 2004.
InDaily has sighted documents that show the student was wrongly accused of accessing the images, and was suspended from school at the time of the incident.
The school principal apologised later in 2004 for the “misuse of your inernet account by another person” and sought to clarify the student’s perception that he had been accused himself during investiagations into the use of the account.
The letter also promises a $5 refund into the syudent’s internet account.
In 2011 the former student started action to get the full apology he felt he deserved.
“I wanted an apology, that’s all,” he told media yesterday.
“I never went into any meetings or discussions seeking money.”
In February 2012 he received an apology from the then head of the Education Department, Keith Bartley, along with the promise of a forthcoming apology from the deputy principal that he said had accused him back in 2004.
The former student claimed today he was invited to a meeting in 2012 and was told he would be getting a personal apology from the deputy principal.
“When I got there, it was just Don Mackie from legal services and David Chadwick the regional director,” he told ABC Radio today.
He said the discussion they initiated related to compensation and confidentiality, that he accepted the $30,000 deal, but now regretted it.
“I wanted an apology, that’s all.”
Still dissatisfied with the departmental response, the former student said he contacted the Premier’s office on September 29 this year.
Today, Education Minister Rankine confirmed that following the student’s contact, the matter had been referred by the Premier’s staff to her office for resolution.
No action appears to have been taken until the story became public and the Education Department acted to suspend the teacher with pay.
After the Premier indicated he had no problem with the confidentiality clause being lifted, the former student spoke with reporters about his experience.
He said the case ended his schooling and that he felt bullied and belittled.
“My schooling was ended, I don’t have any faith in that system at all,” he said.
“It was ‘let’s shut him up with $30,000’ and I regret accepting that settlement.
“My brothers as well, their schooling was ended because that was the only school in my community and where else were you going to go unless you were going to move?
“As a result of that I had to move towns so I could further my own education.
“It was ‘let’s shut him up with $30,000’ and I regret accepting that settlement.”
The young man revealed this morning that despite four previous attempts to raise the matter with police, it was only yesterday that they came knocking.
“They turned up and said they had been sent on instructions from the highest authority.
“In the past they had said they looked into the matter and were satisfied that the department and Don Mackie had investigated the matter and no further action was needed.”
The suspended teacher is now the subject of an investigation into the 2004 incident and a later incident in 2006.
Lawyer Alex Ward told ABC Radio this itself raised further issues.
“From a workplace relations perspective, is it fair that he is investigated again? I mean the cat’s out of the bag so to speak – it was nine years ago.”
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