Education Officer, Deputy Headteacher In a Sexual Scandal With A Pupil Get Reprieve
A court has faulted the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for firing an official over unproven allegations that he had sexual relations with a pupil.
Justice Stephen Radido of the Employment and Labour Relations Court said the dismissal of Mr Johnstone Inaweti, a sub-county education director, and removal of his name from the register of teachers was procedurally and substantively unfair.
“The court finds that due to the inconsistencies in the statements by the witnesses presented in court by the parties, the Commission did not prove valid and fair reasons to dismiss the claimant,” said Justice Radido.
The court found that the dismissal of Mr Inaweti was based on forged medical notes that indicated the pupil had been tested at Serem Hospital in February 2016 and found to be five months pregnant.
A senior nursing officer with Serem hospital testified that the pupil was never seen at the facility on February 18, 2016 as alleged and that the medical note she produced was a forgery that did not emanate from the hospital.
“Considering the testimony by the senior nursing officer, the testimony led on behalf of the Commission that the pupil was found pregnant is doubtful,” Justice Radido said.
He directed the TSC to restore Mr Inaweti to the register of teachers and pay him all terminal dues that he would have been entitled to upon normal retirement.
The judge also ordered the TSC to pay the claimant the equivalent of 12 months’ gross salary as compensation based on his gross wage for June 2015, the last month he served fully.
He had served for 27 years. Instead of reinstatement, the court converted his dismissal into normal retirement with full benefits.
The court noted that the TSC had found glaring inconsistencies in the pupil’s story before sacking Mr Inaweti. For instance, she had confessed to two pastors (sponsors of the school she attended) that she did not know the person responsible for her pregnancy, though she cited the deputy headteacher and Mr Inaweti.
The pupil also gave conflicting statements about where she procured an abortion and who had made her pregnant.
The TSC had urged the court to only concern itself with whether it had proved that Mr Inaweti was guilty of immoral behaviour and not whether he was responsible for the pregnancy. But the court noted that the TSC did not demonstrate that Mr Inaweti had sexual relations with the pupil or engaged in immoral behaviour.
Mr Inaweti allegedly had sexual relations with the pupil in May and October 2015. He was sacked in June 2016.
After his dismissal, he sued, challenging the disciplinary process on the grounds that he was not allowed to thoroughly cross-examine the complainant and the investigation officer. Some of his questions were overruled during the hearing.
TSC panel overruled questions on the dates that Mr Inaweti allegedly had the relationship with the pupil, why the investigation report was not dated, and how the investigator came to the view that the pupil had been made pregnant by the claimant.
The record also showed that a deputy headteacher who was supposed to testify for Mr Inaweti turned hostile, but the latter was not allowed to cross-examine him. The witness disowned his previous recorded statement.
The TSC did not explain to him or the court why the questions were overruled or why a chance to cross-examine the hostile witness was not given.