Teacher suspended for calling students 'morons,' encouraging them to fight
An empty classroom is shown in this file image. (The Canadian Press)
An Ontario teacher has been suspended for one month after the profession’s regulatory body found her guilty of inappropriate conduct for insulting her students, encouraging physical violence, and attending meetings while under the influence of alcohol.
In June 2019, the Ontario College of Teachers decided to reprimand Terry Ann M. Laforge and suspend her from teaching for one month beginning on Sept. 1. She was also directed to complete a course regarding appropriate boundaries and supervision and submit a written report from her instructors on her progress in the class before she would be allowed to return to teaching.
Laforge pleaded no contest to a host of charges of professional misconduct stemming from her time as a teacher for the Thames Valley District School Board in London, Ont. from 2010 to 2015.
“The member engaged in an ongoing pattern of inappropriate conduct, including making inappropriate comments to students, failing to maintain professional boundaries, encouraging pupils to fight, attending meetings while under the influence of alcohol, causing a student to fall to the ground, and making a racist comment to a taxi driver,” the College wrote in its penalty decision.
The College said Laforge has given up her position with the school board as a result of her “ongoing medical difficulties.”
According to a Statement of Uncontested Facts and Plea of No Contest, Laforge took responsibility for charges that included:
- Calling a student and/or students “moron” and/or “you two morons.”
- Sharing confidential information about student placements for the next year.
- Texting her student and continuing to do so after the student’s parent asked her to stop.
- Making inappropriate statements to students and others about the principal’s sexual orientation.
- Taking a student home for lunch without parental permission to do so.
- Sending a text message to a parent regarding the fact the parent spoke to the principal about Laforge’s behaviour at school. The parent considered the text messages to be threatening.
- Encouraging two male students in her class to engage in a physical fight. She told the students “You just need to get this out of your system and go at it.” She then sent them into the hallway to “go at it.”
- Leaving students unsupervised so she could return home to retrieve medication.
- Attending a 9 a.m. board meeting while under the influence of alcohol.
- Telling the principal she got into a car accident and was charged with reckless driving when she was actually charged with driving while impaired by alcohol.
- Telling the principal she was late for work because she was running late when, in fact, she had been stopped by police for speeding.
- Grabbing a male student by his shirt when he was running in the hall and causing him to fall to the ground.
- Taking a taxi to work and making a racist and offensive comment to the cab driver to the effect of “go back to your country.”
In early November 2015, Laforge pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while impaired. She was fined and given a one-year probation and one-year licence suspension. A few days later, the school board placed her on a three-month leave.
Laforge was also placed on leave for approximately half the academic school year beginning in December 2014 after she attended a board meeting while under the influence of alcohol.
Laforge was placed on leave once again in February 2016.
On May 30, 2019, Laforge entered into an “Undertaking and Acknowledgement” with the College, which sets out the conditions which must be met before she can return to teaching.
“Given the ongoing and repeated nature and severity of the Member’s conduct, the Committee finds that a one-month suspension is reasonable and appropriate,” the College wrote.
“The suspension will serve as a specific deterrent to the member and a general deterrent to other members of the profession, making clear that the kind of misconduct the Member exhibited is reprehensible.”