Was registered. Convicted for fraud. Still registered

A Northland school teacher will be allowed to keep teaching despite admitting nearly $45,000 worth of benefit fraud.

Avalina Deonie Cook, 31, had been teaching at Whangarei’s Manaia View School when the school discovered her crime and alerted the Teachers Council.

She was sentenced to six months’ home detention and ordered to repay the money after being convicted of benefit fraud in Whangarei District Court last year.

A Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal decision, released today, reveals Ms Cook claimed nearly $45,000 from the unemployment, sickness and domestic purposes benefits, despite working at four childcare centres between 2007 and 2013.

The solo mother told the council she had convinced herself that because she was studying she did not have to tell authorities about her part-time work and she wanted her two sons to take part in sports.

She admitted she had broken the law but said it never affected her teaching.

Tribunal chairman Kenneth Johnston said Ms Cook had not had an easy life and was affected by the death of close relatives.

The tribunal decided to take the least punitive option it could. It censured Ms Cook and suspended her teaching certificate for six months, or until she completed a budgeting course.

She must also tell future employers about her case.

The only good thing about this is that teachers who get sprung now have their name plastered all over the place. ?Avalina Deonie Cook would have enjoyed permanent name suppression not so long ago.

Of course, the argument is that teacher registration prevents these sorts of things, because the registration process assures a higher standard of candidate.

As we continue to observe, this simply isn’t true.


– 3 News