A school board on Nova Scotia's South Shore has gone to court trying to keep a teacher who pleaded guilty to sex offences out of the classroom.

The South Shore Regional School Board fired New Germany Elementary School teacher Peter Speight after he pleaded guilty to committing an indecent act, but an appeal board ruled that punishment was too harsh.

He was charged in March 2008 with five counts of willfully engaging in indecent acts.

Police said Speight would call women over to his car and pretend to ask for directions while he masturbated.  In each case the women fled and he did not pursue them.

In May 2009 he pleaded guilty to one count and was given a conditional discharge.

One month later the school board fired him, but an appeal board reduced that to a one-year suspension.

The appeal board said Speight received glowing performance reviews.

It said Speight was sorry for his actions and, after therapy, was at a low risk to reoffend.

On Tuesday the South Shore Regional School Board asked the Supreme Court to quash that ruling.

The school board said Speight's dismissal should be upheld because he has breached his duties as a teacher, and would be unable to maintain a professional relationship with staff, students and the community.

"The penalty that was provided by the board of appeal was not appropriate in all the circumstances and the initial decision of the school board in regards to the termination of employment was more appropriate," said Lawyer John MacPherson, who argued the case for the board.

The board said his employment would diminish public trust.

The court has reserved its decision.