Monday, July 13, 2009

Ottawa teacher 'protected' by union

The Ottawa Citizen moved this story across its twitter feed Saturday and I saved the URL for later reading and browsing. It involves the conviction (by plea) of an Ottawa high school teacher who fondled, fingered and had oral sex with one of his 17-year-old students.
Even though the teacher admitted to sexual contact with the student, school officials told police that they didn’t immediately report the abuse after a representative from the teacher’s union asked them not to.
The girl’s father, reading from a victim-impact statement, said he could only hope the school would fire the teacher and call police after they reported the abuse, but that “almost does not happen.”
“Despite the recommendation of the head of (human resources) to dismiss (the teacher), some of the school trustees are of the opinion that they are under no obligation to call the police,” the father said. “I am floored this would even cross their mind.”
This astounds.
First, but a very minor point, it astounds the parents didn't go directly to the police with the e-mails. However, they're not at fault here, the teacher is. The school should have called the police immediately after receiving notice, if not then immediately after the teacher admitted to the behaviour.
Schools are mandated reporters for many other forms of child abuse. That any one of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association or their French-language counterparts would have actually made that request of the board is deplorable. The concern for a member should only extend so far as to request s/he be suspended with pay / without pay until the police investigation is complete and a decision is made on whether charges are laid.
This is embarrassing for the teachers' federation involved and I hope whoever made that request the board -- and the board employee who accepted it -- are both given their walking papers.


Anonymous said...

That's the problem with the federations. They exist for the protection of their members, not for the protection of the students.
Again, it just reinforces the ideas that bad, even criminal teachers, are hard to get rid of.

Anonymous said...

Assuming the facts are as they are reported (a caveat which is an important one to bear in mind) this should have been a police matter regarding sexual assault - the student was too old for the CAS to be involved. And board employees would have to report this to the OCT - HR made the right call, and whoever overruled them was bizarrely incorrect. To be fair to the unions, their only job is to protect their members - and they have a legal obligation to do so or can be accused of non-representation. However, they generally are pretty good about not pushing it too far with members who are clearly beyond the pale, as this one was(again, if the facts are correct).

Anonymous said...

what's odd to me in this situation, if it is indeed true is that there seems to be question around whose responsibility it was to call police.
School? Board? Parents?

Maybe this board and others should develop a process whereby if a situation like this occurs again no one will hesitate.

Too much time lapsed in my opinion between when the sexual interference took place and action taken.

I can tell you that the biggest mistake I made when my son was assaulted by a bully was NOT calling the police because the bully was not dealt with by the school authorities in a way that was satisfactory. My son had to endure that bully for two more years until the kid moved away.