Home | Industry+Reform | Suspended teachers and principals wait for up to 5 years in Qld
Qld Shadow Minister for Education Dr Christian Rowan submitted a question on notice in parliament about the suspended teachers, some of which have waited up to five years for a resolution. Picture: Liam Kidston

Suspended teachers and principals wait for up to 5 years in Qld

Forty teachers and principals have been suspended with pay due to ongoing disciplinary matters by the Department of Education and Queensland College of Teachers (QCT), which have come under fire for allowing the cases to go on for years.

Data revealed two of the cases originated in 2020, another dates back to 2021 and a further 10 started in 2022.

A question on notice in parliament from opposition education spokesman Christian Rowan revealed that, as of April 30, there were four principals, two deputy principals and 34 teachers from public schools suspended with pay.

Under the Education Act, a teacher’s registration is suspended if they are charged with a serious offence or if "the QCT reasonably believes the teacher poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children".

Based on the department’s publicly available salary details, this cohort amounts to a combined annual salary of $3.6m at a minimum but could be as high as $4.9m.

Teachers’ Professional Association of Queensland president Scott Stanford said he had previously worked with a member involved in a disciplinary case, which they were later cleared over, that dragged on for three and a half years.

“It puts the staff member through stress,” he said.

“Staff won’t resign while they’re in that process because it makes them look guilty, and when the College of Teachers decides they’re not guilty and they can return to work, a lot of members say ‘Well, stuff you, after you treated me like this’.

“I’m all for the system, but it needs to be expedited because you’re playing with people’s lives.” Mr Stanford said he believed the QCT did not have the resources to expedite cases.

“In a lot of cases, unless the suspended person jumps up and down or gets a lawyer involved, it just goes on,” he said.

Mr Stanford said there was a knock-on effect for prolonged disciplinary cases.

“You have to get someone else acting in these roles while these staff members are suspended with pay, so, in reality, the cost of all these cases is far more than $3.6m. That’s probably a very conservative figure overall,” he said.

The QCT said it understood the importance of timely and thorough investigations but the priority was student welfare and maintaining the profession’s integrity.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Cresta Richardson. Picture: NCA Newswire/Richard Walker

“Each matter of professional conduct is treated differently – some are more highly complex than others and require varying degrees of investigation,” the QCT said in a statement.

“Periodic reviews are undertaken throughout the suspension period to determine if susp­ension remains the most appropriate form of action.”

But Queensland Teachers’ Union president Cresta Richardson said she did not support extended periods of suspension, instead advocating for an early return to work, or allocation of alternative duties, for affected teachers and school staff.

“If a teacher or school leader cannot return to their usual position during an investigation process, the department ought to, and is required under legislation to, consider alternative duties,” she said.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *