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Parent group calls for board accountability, licence suspension of teacher

Students First Ontario says survey results show families want action
Students First Ontario says parents aren't satisfied with the school board's response to the controversy around a teacher presenting in class with huge prosthetic breasts and revealing clothing.

A parents' group  remains unsatisfied with the Halton school board's response to demands for action regarding the Oakville Trafalgar High School teacher at the centre of a media controversy.

This week, Students First Ontario (SFO) released survey results that show respondents unanimously agree the school board hasn’t taken the necessary steps to ensure they could manage a similar situation in the future.

Last September, a transgender teacher associated with Oakville Trafalgar High School garnered international news attention. Videos and photos went viral on social media; they showed a teacher in the school’s shop class wearing tight-fitting shirts and sporting what appeared to be enormous prosthetic breasts.

In the months since, the matter has continued to draw international media attention, protests and bomb threats at the school and other Halton District School Board (HDSB) targets, and many parents have said their concerns and questions go unaddressed.

More than 91 per cent of survey respondents remain concerned that a controversial and media-exposed teacher may return to the classroom in the future. 

Results of the March 2023 survey conducted by SFO, which is a group of more than 300 HDSB parents, students and concerned community members, indicate that 98.6 per cent of survey respondents are not satisfied that the issue has been resolved. Respondents agreed that officials and administrators responsible for managing the situation should be held accountable for their action and inaction.

“It’s understandable that parents want to see those in charge be held to account. HDSB families have been forced to endure constant threats to the safety of their children while having their voices silenced and their concerns ignored”, explained an OTHS Parent and Students First Ontario supporter. “In what other field can you mismanage a situation so egregiously and then expect to walk away without acknowledging your failure and instituting a change-plan to prevent a future recurrence?”

Parent Chris Downing said the survey results were sent to the board and HDSB trustees, but they haven’t heard anything from them. He said the survey was conducted on the SFO’s website and acknowledged it was largely parents of students at Oakville Trafalgar High responding.

“It’s pretty clear there is lots of concern about that teacher being on paid leave,” he said, adding there were 130 verbatim comments. “And the board hasn’t refuted that that person isn’t coming back.

“Why is this person being paid to do nothing? Has there been any disciplinary action? It’s not clear,” he added.

HDSB declined a request to speak with BurlingtonToday about the survey. They provided this response: “While not currently on an active assignment, the teacher remains employed with the HDSB. We continue to support the teacher in partnership with OSSTF.”

Some of the other survey results found that the accountability measures expected by respondents were:

  • 78.3 per cent want those accountable to acknowledge their failures
  • 72.5 per cent want to see apologies issued to the school community
  • 70 per cent want those responsible to voluntarily resign from their role
  • 71 per cent want to see involuntary terminations/replacement of those accountable.

The survey respondents also said they would prefer mandatory enrollment of the HDSB director, superintendents and trustees in foundational training in Democratic Principles and Parent Engagement, to be completed by September 2023.

Further, they are seeking public acknowledgement and an apology to HDSB families for failing to manage the teacher situation and for the damage inflicted on students.

Respondents also seek that the teacher’s licence be suspended for a minimum of two years and reinstated only following a clinical assessment and adherence to a professionalism policy.

They’d also like the investigation and findings to be made public.

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Julie Slack

About the Author: Julie Slack

Julie Slack is a Halton resident who has been working as a community journalist for more than 25 years
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