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Teachers accused of sexual misconduct, rape

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At least thirteen people working in South Australian public schools – most of them teachers – have been accused of sexual misconduct including rape over the past 18 months, data released by the Education Department shows.

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Ten of them were teachers, one was an hourly paid instructor and two were contractors working on school grounds but not with students.

Seven of the cases involved alleged victims at the school, while one involved allegations of a rape in the family home.

The accusations include rape, sexual assault, possession of child exploitation material and grooming behaviours.

The Education Department told InDaily charges had been laid in relation to nine matters, with most still progressing through the courts.

One case had been “concluded with allegations not proven” and in another matter the charges were withdrawn.

Investigations are ongoing into four other cases, with charges yet to be laid.

None of those accused is currently working in schools.

The department said that in line with recommendations from the Debelle Royal Commission into sexual abuse in schools, a total of 13 case files had been created for allegations of sexual misconduct since January last year.

A case file is created when police advise the Education Department’s incident management division that a person has been charged or an investigation has been launched.

The department said school communities are notified in line with reporting guidelines developed in response to the Debelle Royal Commission.

“Notification is most likely when charges are laid and/or the accused appears in court for the first time,” a department spokesperson said.

A document listing 12 case files from January last year to April this year was released to the Opposition following a Freedom of Information request, with InDaily obtaining further details about the cases – plus an extra case since then – from the Education Department.

Opposition education spokesman Blair Boyer said the data “shows just how vital it is that there are no cuts to the incident management area of the Education Department”.

“It deals with the most sensitive of issues and it is important they are exempt from the existing savings targets imposed upon the Department,” he said.

The Education Department’s chief operating officer, Julieann Riedstra, said “the safety and wellbeing of students and young people is our absolute priory”.

“Allegations of sexual misconduct are taken very seriously and dealt with in accordance with the rigorous processes set out in the cross-sector guidance developed in response to the Debelle Independent Education Enquiry,” she said.

“The Incident Management Division is well resourced to carry out its important work.”

Education Minister John Gardner said teacher registration laws had also been strengthened to help protect students from potential predators.

“In addition to the Department continuing to provide necessary resources to the relevant departmental units, it is worth noting the significant improvements made by the Marshall Liberal Government to teachers’ registration laws to prioritise the protection of children,” Gardner said.

“Those changes mean that the registration of a teacher charged with serious criminal offences is immediately suspended upon those charges being laid – meaning that they are removed from their roles and unable to work with children from that moment.

“These amendments were recommended to the previous government by the Teachers Registration Board but they never acted on those recommendations.

“Our teachers’ registration process rightly requires high professional standards and demands that teachers registered in South Australia are not only competent educators, but are also fit and proper persons to have the care of children.”

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