Principal gave sex toys to pupils

Seelandran Ramiah, taught at Lakehaven Secondary in Newlands and Glenhaven Secondary, in Verulam, before he emigrated more than 20 years ago.

Seelandran Ramiah, taught at Lakehaven Secondary in Newlands and Glenhaven Secondary, in Verulam, before he emigrated more than 20 years ago.

Published Jun 16, 2024



A FORMER Durban man’s teaching registration has been cancelled in New Zealand after he attempted to pursue relationships with three of his students as well as a colleague by sending them naked pictures of himself and trying to give two of them sex toys at school.

Seelandran Ramiah, taught at Lakehaven Secondary in Newlands and Glenhaven Secondary, in Verulam, before he emigrated more than 20 years ago.

His teaching registration was cancelled for the behaviour, which took place at Auckland’s James Cook High School between 2020 and 2022, where he was the assistant principal.

However, the disciplinary action is not the end of the matter for the disgraced assistant principal.

Ramiah is also before Manukau District Court awaiting sentencing on a charge of doing an indecent act on a young person under the age of 16 and a charge of indecent communication with a young person under the age of 16.

His lawyer John Mather would not confirm whether those charges are related to matters outlined in the tribunal’s findings or refer to separate incidents.

James Cook High School’s principal Tina Filipo said in a statement published to its website d that Ramiah was facing charges in relation to “sexual conduct” towards a former student.

“We appreciate this will be very upsetting for our community as Mr Ramiah had been a trusted and long-serving member of our school since the early 2000s,” she said.

Full details of Ramiah’s offences were released by the Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal, as it announced his cancellation, last week.

According to the charges, which were admitted at a hearing earlier this year, Ramiah began messaging a Year 12 student between 2020 and 2022 telling her that he loved her. He also asked that she keep their communications a secret.

They exchanged thousands of text messages, many of them of a sexual nature.

“I’m in love with your ass,” one message from Ramiah read.

“Send me a pic of every time you weigh yourself,” another message to the student reads, despite him knowing she had a history of depression and anxiety, and struggled with her appearance and weight.

Over a similar time period, the teacher also engaged in similar conduct towards a student in her final year of school by asking her to download the app Signal so he could message her privately.

Ramiah also removed the student from one of her classes and brought her to his office where he told her he’d had relationships with former students, talked about himself masturbating and asked if she wanted to use a sex toy he had brought with him to school.

Although the student received several messages from Ramiah she didn’t read them and deleted the app.

A third student also drew Ramiah’s attention in 2022. He also asked her to download Signal, where he messaged her telling her she was “beautiful” and “sexy”. He also offered to send the girl photos of himself masturbating and told her that he could teach her to masturbate and had done so to other students.

The student ceased all contact with Ramiah and deleted the app when the sexual nature of the conversations in person and via the app made her uncomfortable.

However, it wasn’t just students that drew the unwanted sexual attention of Ramiah after he told a female staff member that he wanted to pursue a relationship with her and commented on her physical appearance as well as telling her what he wanted to do to her sexually.

The man sent his colleague photos of his penis as well as videos of himself masturbating and requested that she send him similar visuals of herself.

In May 2022 the school’s then principal, Grant McMillan, became aware of Ramiah’s interactions with the first student and placed him on discretionary leave before suspending him on full pay pending a full investigation.

The Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal was then notified and a Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) charged him with misconduct.

Now, the tribunal has opted to cancel Ramiah’s teaching licence, though he has voluntarily withdrawn from the profession as of 2022, and he was ordered to pay $7 000 in fines and legal costs.

Ramiah admitted his conduct towards the first student and said there was no way forward but to renounce his teaching certificate and resign from the profession.

In regards to the other two students, Ramiah opted not to respond and claimed that doing so could be seen as him defending his actions.

He maintained that his communications with his female colleague were mutual. Counsel for the CAC, Elena Mok, said in submissions that Ramiah took advantage of the first student’s anxieties in conduct that amounted to “emotional abuse”.

Mok said Ramiah initially appeared to show concern for the student’s expressions of anxiety and insecurities, but he would then, in the same conversation, proceed to encourage her to engage in messaging about sexual topics and to send nude photographs to him.

The tribunal said Ramiah’s conduct was aggravated by him urging the students to keep their communications with him secret, which suggested he was well aware of how inappropriate his conduct was.

“Mr Ramiah’s conduct involved more than one student, apparently for his own sexual gratification and regardless of the students’ wellbeing.”

“He was persistent and forced his demands on the students despite them expressing discomfort.”

The tribunal said Ramiah’s conduct to each of the young women involved “gross breaches of trust and abuse of his position of responsibility” given he was an assistant principal and had a duty of pastoral car towards his students.

“There was a pattern of behaviour over an extended period with Mr Ramiah pursuing relationships with four young women which he ought to have recognised was wholly inappropriate and contrary to the professional standards expected of registered teachers,” the tribunal said.

“There is little evidence that demonstrates that Mr Ramiah fully understands the impact of his conduct on the students and staff members, or the importance of the professional boundary and the seriousness of breaching the boundary.”

The tribunal said it was concerned that there was no evidence that Ramiah had apologised to his victims.

He has been approached through his counsel for comment.

It is believed that Ramiah matriculated from Gandhi Desai Secondary and obtained his tertiary qualification from the then University of Durban Westville.

A former pupil, now living in New Zealand, described Ramiah as ‘‘disgraceful’.

“I remember him being a teacher in school. He was good at sports especially volleyball and the boys looked up to him. When I heard about the allegations against him I was shocked and it also made me concerned that he could have done something similar to some of the girls or even female teachers I had known at school.”

He said he hoped that through the articles in the media more victims would come forward and help the current victims get the justice they need.

– Additional reporting Charlene Somduth.

This article has been published with the permission of the New Zealand Herald. Wilkinson is an Open Justice reporter based in Manawatū covering courts and justice issues with an interest in tribunals


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