A report into how a convicted sex offender, who taught at six schools including a Tauranga primary school and was arrested by Tauranga police went on to teach at two more schools, was released today.
The report outlines how Te Rito Henry Miki, 41, was able to work at six schools during a two year period including Matapihi Primary School where he worked from July to August 2009.
Te Rito Henry Miki.
In the report, led by former Ombudsman Mel Smith and former Education Review Office chief executive Judith Aitken, states Miki was arrested by Tauranga Police on August 4, 2009 on an outstanding warrant for a breach of release conditions.
At this time Miki had been employed in four schools, all of which suspected he was not who he appeared to be.
He was charged with a breach of his release conditions and sentenced to 125 hours of community work.
He then went on to work at another two schools before being arrested on February 22, 2012.
“Miki was easily able to secure tutorial and relieving positions and gained a Limited Authority to Teach. This allowed employment as a registered teacher.
“Neither the police, nor the Corrections Department, found it easy to keep track of Miki, even when his aliases included similar names or the same names varied in terms of their order.
"It was clear that potentially useful information about Miki was lost because at least one concerned person was put off by overly dogmatic bureaucracy.”
The report states that Miki gained entry into the education system by using the identity and teaching qualifications of a registered teacher from the New Zealand Teachers’ Council website.
In April Miki pleaded guilty to seven charges of fraud and four counts of breaching parole conditions. On May 18, 2012 Miki was sentenced to four years, one month and two weeks jail on 12 various charges.
It also highlighted the ease with which Miki was able to change his name lawfully and adopt numerous aliases – suggesting he may have used up to 53 different names throughout his lifetime.
The report includes 35 recommendations on how to prevent the situation from occurring again divided into seven key areas: the role and functions of the New Zealand Teachers’ Council, name change policy processes; identity checks; information sharing; offender management and police matters; education workforce and employment practices; and school governance.
Education Minister Hekia Parata says the complicated web woven by Miki exposed “serious failings across the whole system”.
She today praised the staff and learners of the schools who were involved in the inquiry.
“Miki’s case was extreme in the lengths he went to manipulate the system and the people who would normally be expected to detect and deal with such behaviour,” says Hekia.
"The report showed that the existing identity and employment checking system for bona fide teachers are working, but there are areas that need strengthening overall to prevent the kind of exploitation that this case exposed.
"Parents must be able to send their children to school confident that an individual of this type is not part of the school environment."
The Department of Internal Affairs is currently reviewing its policy and processes around name changing and will report back in October.
Miki was employed at Matapihi Primary from July 2009 to August 2009. He also worked at Rotorua’s Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Koutu from October to December 2008; Rangitahi College in Murupara, from June 2007 and September 2008; and Stratford Community Learning Centre from July to November 2007.