Friday, September 26, 2008

Is Your Teacher A Prostitute?

An Auckland primary (elementary) school teacher is moonlighting as a prostitute, the New Zealand Herald reports. The woman - in her 30s and a mother of two - is new to teaching and moonlights to supplement her income.

The school's board of trustees is now considering the matter after a parent informed the principal of the teacher's extracurricular employment. The dilemma the board faces is that while the teacher's secondary employment may be seen by some to be incompatible with her teaching employment, that work is now legal in New Zealand.

Prostitution is legal in New Zealand. The Prostitution Reform Act (2003) makes adult prostitution a legal occupation and permits licensed brothels.

Schools can and do have policies preventing or restricting secondary employment, or at least requiring prior approval by the school board. A board might consider some types of secondary employment to be incompatible with its policies and with the role-modeling expected of its teachers. But the key issue might be whether the teacher's secondary work affects her work performance as a teacher.

The teacher may be in breach of the rules of conduct for registered teachers enforced by the New Zealand Teacher's Council. Under the Education Act 1989, the school board could petition the Council to review the teacher's employment as a prostitute to determine whether her conduct constitutes an "act... that brings, or is likely to bring, discredit to the [teaching] profession".

The counter-argument, of course, is that prostitution is legal employment and that unless the woman's work performance at her primary job is unduly affected, the school has no business sanctioning or dismissing the woman.

In 2006, an Auckland policewoman who was moonlighting as a sex worker at a massage parlour was told by her police employer that her secondary employment was inappropriate and incompatible with her policing work. After an investigation was completed, the woman was able to keep her police employment.

No word yet whether a teacher might be sanctioned or dismissed for engaging in other legal but morally questionable moonlighting such as used car salesperson, real estate agent, banker, lawyer, or economist.

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