Sacked St Kevin’s maths teacher loses bid to reclaim job

Former St Kevin’s maths teacher Simon Parris has lost his legal battle to reclaim his job at the Catholic boys’ school after being sacked last year over his behaviour towards a male student.

The 52-year-old veteran teacher and amateur arts critic lost his job after a student complained of inappropriate conduct including hugging, and accused the teacher of rubbing his hand along the boy’s upper thigh and making remarks about his “strong diver’s body”.

Former St Kevin’s College teacher Simon Parris.

The dismissal, in February last year, occurred while St Kevin’s College was in crisis over a series of damaging media reports about its mishandling of child grooming by a former volunteer coach.

Fair Work Commissioner Tim Lee dismissed Mr Parris’ unfair-dismissal claim in a decision released on Wednesday, finding that Mr Parris’ misconduct was grave and his behaviour had caused significant harm to a student in his care.

Also weighing against Mr Parris’ application was his private use of a school laptop to store and view pornography and his tweet referring to a “wet dream” on June 14, 2019, on the same day he sat on a couch with the boy, known as Student A in the hearing.

Mr Lee also found Mr Parris had been dishonest during an investigation into the incident involving the student and lacked insight into his behaviour.

“The overall lack of insight of the applicant into his action and his failure to take responsibility for his actions weigh against the finding that the dismissal was unfair,” Mr Lee wrote in his decision.

“He also demonstrated on a number of occasions that he struggled with understanding his
responsibilities as a teacher.”

Student A gave evidence during the hearing that Mr Parris, having pulled him out of class, sat beside him on a couch and rubbed his hand along the boy’s leg for one to two minutes, from his knee to his upper thigh.

Edmund Rice Education Australia, which governs St Kevin’s College, welcomed the decision.

“Mr Parris was dismissed by the college in February 2020 and was seeking to be re-employed,” it said.

“In the Fair Work Commission hearings, [Edmund Rice Education Australia] and the college strongly defended the dismissal of Mr Parris and is pleased that that decision has now been vindicated.”

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