Teacher showed ‘complete lack of judgment’
The acting principal who sacked a teacher over sexual misconduct allegations, believing student safety was at risk, has admitted doing so without giving the man a chance to respond, a Fair Work Commission hearing heard.
Acting principal of St Kevin's College in Toorak, John Crowley, told an unfair dismissal hearing he sacked maths and drama teacher Simon Parris for his "complete lack of judgment".
The Fair Work Commission heard Mr Parris admitted hugging a 16-year-old, Student A, in June last year and calling him "sweetie".
The commission heard he sent a tweet referring to a "wet dream" later that same day and also allegedly used his work laptop to view hardcore pornography.
Mr Crowley said that on his first day at the school on February 20, taking over from headmaster Stephen Russell, he called Mr Parris to a meeting where he dismissed him.
"He didn't seem to understand professional boundaries," he told the hearing.
"I have responsibility for 2100 boys and I was not convinced in any way, shape or form that he was an appropriate person to work with children.
"I made a judgment and I made the correct judgment. And I would make that same decision again."
Mr Crowley admitted the dismissal failed to include the required step of offering Mr Parris a further meeting to respond.
He also conceded his actions may have caused the school to breach its employment contract with him.
At the time of dismissal, Mr Parris was already suspended by previous headmaster Mr Russell following the hugging incident and tweet.
Mr Crowley said it was the "highly sexualised tweet" Student A's father had brought to the school's attention that cemented his decision.
He said it brought the college into disrepute.
"When you put those two things together, that was satisfactory for me to call this meeting," he said.
"I acknowledge the procedure was not perfect. But I made the right decision."
Mr Crowley said he had asked the Commission for Children and Young People to reopen its investigation into the June 2019 hugging incident, believing additional breaches by Mr Parris against Student A were not included in its first report.
These included allegations that Mr Parris rubbed the student's upper thigh, stroked his face and commented on his body.
"If we accept that information was provided to the regulator, which I believe it was, then I'm saying I'm astonished that in October the regulator concluded the matter was resolved," Mr Crowley said.
Mr Parris's dismissal came during the fallout from a Four Corners report on the school's handling of a child grooming case, a period Mr Crowley described as "bedlam".
He is arguing for reinstatement.
The Fair Work Commission hearing continues.
Originally published as Teacher showed 'complete lack of judgment'