Emotions high over allegations of teacher's inappropriate behaviour

Marlborough Boys' College would not give details of what had happened but it was reportedly linked to allegations a teacher had sexual relationships with students over several years. - Photo: RNZ/Tracy Neal

Parents from Marlborough Boys' College in Blenheim have spoken of their grief and anger over a sex scandal that has erupted at the school.

The college has confirmed that a teacher is on leave while authorities investigate what it called a "sensitive matter" that might involve a student.

In the quiet, sunny town of 30,000 a local woman Helen said word travelled fast.

"It's only going to take one person to say a name and then you know what it's like in Blenheim… everything goes around everywhere. Suddenly everyone knows

The Marlborough school would not give details of what had happened but it was reportedly linked to allegations a teacher had sexual relationships with students over several years.

The board chairperson says it was working with the School Trustees Association and Ministry of Education to make sure the matter was being handled in line with what it called best practise.

Sturrock Saunders, said the school was taking care to protect its students. He said the matter had been referred to Oranga Tamariki and police were investigating.

A parent, Julie, has two boys at the school. She was disappointed but has faith the school would handle the matter properly.

"I haven't really been overly concerned. I believe Wayne Hegarty will make the right decisions, as I think he's absolutely fabulous as a headmaster.

"The Board of Trustees will do what's right."

Julie understood video footage that formed the basis of the allegations was shared widely, and fast. She blamed social media for the way in which the story had spread.

"I would hope if it happened to my boys, or they were involved in something like that they would come to me rather than flick it around social media."

Another parent broke down in tears, saying she was upset for the school and its reputation. She was furious with the teacher at the centre of allegations.

A former pupil, Jordan, said he knows the woman and cannot believe it.

"When I was there she was a real good teacher. Everyone would listen to her, she knew how to manage and handle everything.

"If bad things went on, she knew what she was doing."

Other locals said they were shocked by what they had heard but wanted to see what comes out of an investigation.

One woman said it was disappointing as the college had such big plans for the future and she was afraid it would taint its reputation.

Another felt confident the college was handling it properly.

"I was talking to a pupil yesterday and he said the senior boys had been addressed regarding it."

The Minister of Education's office has declined to comment, other than to acknowledge the allegations were serious.

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