Toowoomba high school teacher leaked exam papers to student
A HIGH school teacher who passed on an exam papers to a student before sitting for the exam has been fined by a Toowoomba court and may yet face disciplinary action by Education Queensland.
Ekta Sharma, 45, had worked as a teacher for Education Queensland since 2004 having arrived in Australia from India two years earlier, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard.
However, on four occasions between January 22, 2018, and April 5, 2019, she had supplied a particular student with exam papers after the student asked her for help, police prosecutor Sergeant Natalie Bugden told the court.
The documents were only available to Sharma as a teacher and not to any student as that would provide "an unfair advantage" over other students, Sgt Bugden said.
The exams related to subjects such as chemistry, maths B and physics, the court heard.
When the student told two classmates that she knew what was in the exam papers before sitting for the exam, those two students complained to the school and police were called in, Sgt Bugden said.
During an interview with police, the student concerned admitted to having received the documents and conceded that the practice had given her an unfair advantage over other students, she said.
A tearful Sharma pleaded guilty to a charge of abuse of office in providing a student with an unfair advantage.
Her barrister Marcin Lazinski submitted the exam papers provided by his client were not identical to the actual exams for which the students sat but were similar in content and could be described as "practice papers".
However, his client accepted she had provided the student concerned with an advantage over other students, he said.
His client had no criminal history, was of otherwise good character and had provided a letter of apology to the court, he said.
Though his client was still teaching, she had been put on notice that she may face disciplinary action and she was medicated for stress as a result of this, Mr Lazinski said.
Magistrate Howard Osborne accepted Sharma was remorseful but said the matter was serious.
"You abused your position as a teacher to provide an advantage to a child that was not available to other students," he said.
Mr Osborne fined Sharma $3500 but order the conviction not be recorded.