Allegations of Sexual Abuse
The school bell will be music to Michael Neville's ears when he resumes his teaching career.
The Levin teacher, who last month was found not guilty of sexually assaulting four former pupils, will return next term to the school from which he was suspended in 2003.
The school board announced the decision in a newsletter to parents on December 29.
"The committee met recently with Mike at which an open and frank discourse took place," it said. "The committee unanimously decided that it was appropriate that [he] be welcomed back to his full teaching duties."
Board members and teachers would meet to discuss "ongoing issues", which would include a "full discussion about [the] school's physical contact policy and potential health and safety issues".
Mr Neville said he was looking forward to planning his lessons for the term ahead and wanted to put the stress of the past 18 months behind him.
"One of the things I'm most looking forward to is sitting down with a book and reading the children a story. This has always been one of my fondest memories. Being able to hear the laughing and squealing will be a thrill. I've had some pretty lonely days at home."
Mr Neville was always confident he would return to the school, whose name is suppressed to protect the identity of the complainants.
"I have always said that I would like to go back to the school and as soon as the trial finished the board was very quick to act and get this resolved.
"It is so good to see that the judicial system and the board's process do work. My reinstatement has been a long time coming and this is a great Christmas present for our family."
One of the bail conditions imposed on Mr Neville after he was arrested on September 23, 2003, was that he not go near the school.
The first Saturday after the not guilty verdicts he and his wife Adele, who works as the school secretary, strolled around the classroom blocks and the grounds together.
"It was like a real coming home for us. We had come a full circle. I never doubted that I would be back."
Mrs Neville said that being able to return to the school next term alongside her husband would help them get their life back in order.
"It's all behind us now. It's now the time to move forward and plan lots of things together."
CAPTION: Michael Neville: Never doubted return.