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Woman alleges teacher threatened to cut off son's fingers with axe
A Montreal mother is furious after learning her six-year-old's math teacher threatened to cut her child's fingers off with an axe.
Julie Chauvin says she first learned something wasn’t right back in September during the parent-teacher night at Westmount Park School. Her son’s math teacher revealed to her that she had spoken to Chauvin’s son James in a way she said she would never speak to an adult, but she said she had apologized to James up in front of the class.
“I asked what she said, and she wouldn't tell me,” Chauvin told CTV Montreal. “I asked my son and he wouldn't tell me either.”
That incident prompted Chauvin’s first visit to the school’s principal. She asked that James be removed from the teacher’s class but school officials told her they did not have the resources to move him.
Her second visit to the principal came after she received her son's first term report card, which showed he had failed math.
“He got a 36 in math, and for a Grade 1 student to get a 36 in math, that's kind of drastic,” Chauvin said.
Then in late May, she says she was stunned when her son told her the same teacher had threatened to cut off his fingers with an axe.
“I didn't really believe him because who’s going to believe that a teacher is going to say she's going to bring an axe to school? But he was, like, ‘No, she said she's going to bring it to school and cut my fingers off’,” Chauvin recalled.
Furious, Chauvin returned to the principal the next day. She says he told her the teacher did make the comment, but in jest.
“He told me she admitted to saying she was going to cut his fingers off with an axe, but she was joking. But my issue is a six-year-old can't tell if you're joking or if you're serious,” Chauvin said.
An email exchange followed in which the principal informed her that the regional director at the English Montreal School Board had “been made aware of all your concerns and the numerous class incidents, including the ‘axe’ comment.”
The EMSB’s Mike Cohen would not comment on any of the alleged incidents or the discussions between Chauvin and the principal. He said complaints against teachers are not uncommon and while they are usually handled at the school level, this complaint had reached the human resources department at the school board, he said.
Chauvin says she's been told the process from this point forward is confidential. In the meantime, James has been removed from the math class.
As for the math teacher, Chauvin doesn’t think she should be teaching.
“She shouldn't be a teacher. When you become a teacher, you like children, you want to help them, you want to educate them, and she doesn't seem to want to do that,” she said.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Tarah Schwartz