Under the name “Anthony Ross,” the Ontario teacher regulator sanctioned him twice for professional misconduct, both times following allegations of sexual abuse of a student.
Last year, he lost his teaching license after the regulator found him guilty of sexual misconduct with a student and a criminal court found him guilty of assault.
Now, under the name “Antonio Ross”, he has appeared as the director of International Convoy Academy, a private boarding school for Canadian and international students located on a 22 acre wooded property in Utopia, near Barrie.
What happened in the Ross case exposes a weakness in Ontario’s education system. Teachers and principals of a private school do not have to be subject to the provincial regulatory system. Although their teaching credentials have been revoked, that only applies to publicly funded schools and private schools that insist that their educators have Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) credentials.
In his keynote address to Convoy students, recorded just before summer break, 57-year-old Ross extended his greetings to students in grades 9-12 heading to Convoy, either in person or online. .
“We work with each student, from airport pick-up to course selection each year, and when you’re in your final year we help you get accepted into the best universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries. … I hope to see each and every one of you on campus one day soon. “
On his LinkedIn profile (removed when Star started asking questions last week), Antonio Ross boasts of his experience developing a curriculum at the York region public school board to teach English as a second language. , and describes how you conducted the teaching leadership training. assistants in “emotional development” and “child abuse”.
Convoy’s main campus is near Barrie, in a rural community called Utopia. There is a large red brick main building, small dormitories, and fields for a variety of sports offered as extracurricular activities. Due to the pandemic, some students are having a difficult time reaching Canada from abroad. A school spokesperson said some students have arrived, with more to come. Tuition and boarding at the school is approximately $ 30,000 a year. Combined between its Markham and Barrie-area campuses, the school can accommodate about 200 students. Fifty students board on the Barrie campus.
On the school’s website, Ross writes that the school works hard to “motivate and teach students to become life-long learners, critical thinkers, and citizens of the world.” He said the school is run by the “Ontario Ministry of Education” and thanks all the parents who have sent students to Convoy. “I am very grateful for your trust in us.”
The Star has tried several times to speak to Ross, both at his school and at his home in Richmond Hill. A woman who opened the door of her house warned a reporter to “get off the property or I will call the police.”
At school, the administrator, Michelle (did not want to give her last name), said that Ross never told her about his past.
“I (wasn’t) aware of that before,” Michelle said. “I didn’t see anything strange or suspicious,” he said, and then promised to “investigate this.”
Michelle said Ross worked for two years as a consultant for the school, but was then hired as a principal in early 2021. A former principal at another Convoy campus, Manal Labib, said she knew Ross only as a “marketing consultant.”
As a principal in the private system, Convoy does not require OCT credentials. Regarding his criminal and disciplinary history, Michelle de Convoy said she doesn’t know if anyone at the school checked him. She didn’t, she said. The star did.
Ross began his teaching career in 1992. His legal name is Antonio Ross, but he was certified as a teacher under the name “Anthony Ross.” He earned a BA in geography from Lakehead University and a BA in education from York University.
His teaching license was issued by the Ontario College of Teachers, which regulates most, but not all, Ontario teachers.
In 1992, he began teaching elementary school in Scarborough with the Scarborough Board of Education (one of the predecessors of the Toronto District School Board). Her teaching certification includes specialties in health and physical education and counseling. In later years, he was working to become a director.
Something happened in the 1994-95 school year when I was in my early 30s that would surface years later. In 2010, a complaint was filed with the Toronto Police regarding what were by then considered historic allegations. By this time, Ross had transferred to school boards and was now teaching in the York region. Police arrested and charged Ross with five counts of sexual assault. It was alleged that he had masturbated and French kissed an eighth grader.
At trial, Ross was acquitted. Ontario Justice Court Judge Timothy Lipson heard testimony from both Ross and the plaintiff (at the time an adult male) and said at his trial that he believes the student was “telling the truth” and that he “preferred his evidence. about that of the defendant. ”Judge Lipson said that despite this, the crown had not established Ross’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
During the lengthy disciplinary proceedings that followed, the York board fired Ross, claiming that while at Scarborough he had engaged in “grooming behavior”. But after Ross and his teachers union appealed, a labor arbitrator reversed the decision in 2015, saying the school board had not proven its case “on the balance of probabilities.” Ross was reinstated on the school board. During the labor arbitration, it also emerged that over the years, Ross has also worked as a tutor (separate from his teaching duties) and for 25 years was both a summer camp counselor and a supervisor of counselors-in-training. A former camper testified during the labor arbitration hearing that when he was “14 and 15” he had strange interactions with Ross, who quickly kissed him several times and told him that he “loved” him.
Aside from labor arbitration, the 1994-95 related allegations reached an Ontario College of Teachers hearing in 2016 and Ross pleaded guilty to professional misconduct involving the same student, but related to minor incidents compared to the criminal charges.
Here’s a summary of what he said happened, based on a statement of fact agreed upon between Ross and the university.
Ross was the homeroom teacher of an eighth grade student whose father was diagnosed with cancer. The student’s mother asked Ross to provide additional academic help, including tutoring the student in the student’s home.
“In or about October 1994, (Ross) started telling the student that he cared about him and loved him,” Ross’s statement of fact reads. Ross frequently took the student home after school hockey games. Once, the student’s mother saw Ross and her son holding hands. In his testimony, Ross told the referee that he remembers going to a school hockey game (Ross was in the back seat with the student while the parents were in the front seat) and putting his hand on the child’s hand and “encourage him / her to play well that day.” Ross told the referee that “their hands were not together for the entire trip, but for a shorter period of time.”
Ross did not testify at the college hearing, but in the agreed statement of fact “acknowledges that his conduct was inappropriate and could have been misinterpreted as a romantic gesture.” The former student, during the labor arbitration (where he testified that Ross had masturbated and French kissed numerous times) said that he had been crushed by his interactions with Ross, something that he had kept a secret from his parents, and later from his wife , out of the ordinary. shame and shame.
The university found Ross guilty of professional misconduct and gave him a three-month teaching suspension. In 2016, he was ordered to take a course on boundary violations.
Two years later, in June 2018, the police were back at his doorstep. At the time he was teaching in high school. Ross was arrested and charged with sexual assault on a high school student. There was a plea deal and Ross pleaded guilty in early 2019 to the offense of misdemeanor assault including – the crown dropped the most severe charge of sexual assault.
In an agreed statement of fact, Ross admitted meeting a student in the guidance office where the student was going to write a science test. The student was described in court as having a learning disability. Ross asked the student personal questions about his family and “his body” and then “reached out with his right hand, grabbed the victim’s right breast and squeezed it for 25-30 seconds.” Then, according to the guilty plea, Ross asked the victim about his arms and ran his index finger up and down the victim’s right bicep. Then Ross grabbed the victim’s chest again and squeezed it for five seconds.
In a statement on the victim’s impact read in court, the student said that this has caused him to have “very little self-confidence” and to feel “sad, depressed, anxious, disgusted.” The student’s mother also provided an impact statement to the victim. She told the court that she trusted Ross, who, she said, told her that his school was “a perfect school” for her son, who was struggling academically.
On January 7, 2019, Judge Mary Ellen Misener handed Ross a 12-month suspended sentence, and the first four months were served at her home, leaving only for necessities. (Ross requested that he be allowed out on Wednesday nights from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. to watch his daughter’s soccer games, but the judge denied that request.) Although he was not convicted of sexual assault, the judge asked Ross to provide a sample. of your DNA to be stored in the national database. The judge prohibited him from occupying any teaching position, paid or voluntary, for one year.
At that time, Ross, using the name “Antonio Ross”, had created a consulting firm in private education. Information posted on international education websites shows that Ross was trying to hire teachers to teach English abroad.
He had also started with Convoy International Academy as a consultant, helping them attract students to the private boarding school. He became a director just after his probation ended in early 2020.
Neither Michelle nor Ross have responded to a dozen emails and calls from the Star since Monday.
The Star provided a summary of their research to Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. A spokesperson responded that when it comes to publicly funded schools, the ministry blocks any teacher or principal from working in the school system if they are found to have sexually abused a student, a move that came after two investigations by high profile by Star. in the last decade. Those rules, the spokesperson said, only apply to a private school if it chooses to follow them.
“Private schools operate as businesses or non-profit organizations,” the spokesperson said.