MANDY SMITH AND NZPA
A former Dannevirke High School teacher says he may never teach again after claiming pupils targeted him with a tirade of verbal and physical abuse.
Maths teacher Gregg Smith, from the US, has taken a personal-grievance claim against the school for not providing a safe working environment.
He resigned last month after working at the school for a year and a half, and now is considering a career outside education. Dannevirke High School was the 56-year-old's first teaching job after training at the Dunedin College of Education 2 1/2 years ago.
"Students told me in my first week they didn't want a foreign teacher, some made anti-American comments and there was huge resistance to doing any work," he said.
Then the situation snowballed. Pupils deliberately misbehaved and organised a petition to get him fired, he said. Parents also entered the fracas and wrote letters blaming Mr Smith for their children failing NCEA.
During his time teaching at the school, Mr Smith said he was called a "paedophile", a "pervert" and "gayboy". He received death threats over the phone, which were reported to police.
He also endured water-soaked tampons thrown around the classroom, pupils thumping him in the hallway and saying they were going to "bash his head in", pupils jumping out of windows during NCEA assessments, pouring Twink on each others' heads, and making suggestive comments about him looking up girls' skirts and at boys' backsides when in class.
In late 2005, the abuse got so bad that he had to take medication to help his anxiety and stress-related trembling.
But he said he was "trapped" because if he had left the job he would have had to leave the country, wasting the thousands of dollars spent on training and securing a house. Mr Smith said he received no support from the school, which had asked him to sign a termination agreement, or face competency proceedings, which meant he would not be able to work in New Zealand again.
Dannevirke High School board of trustees chairman Tony Rhodes wouldn't comment on Mr Smith's teaching ability.
"We have effective measures in the school to deal with behaviour," he said.
The principal could not be reached for comment.