A teachers union has been accused of “protecting” teacher Robert Burrett before he went on to molest and rape 12 Christchurch schoolgirls, missing a chance to remove him from the profession in the early 2000s.
Pukenui School in Te Kuiti tried to get rid of Burrett, its deputy principal, in 2001 because he was drunk, dishevelled and disorganised.
But according to board chair at the time Steve Parry, the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) made the process extremely difficult.
“They were quite evasive and defensive of the guy, and it frustrated us to a high level,” Parry said. “Of course a person has rights and has to be protected, but they were really trying to make things confusing and difficult, they weren’t really engaging in the problems we had.”
It is important to understand that the union’s number one concern is protecting its members – not protecting the school, protecting students, improving education. So their behaviour in this regard is not remarkable. The lesson is you need to understand this is what drives all their advocacy – what is best for their members, as opposed to best for others.