An investigation is underway at a Montreal-area high school after several parents alleged that their children’s art teacher had been taking drawings they made in class and putting them up for sale on various websites without their knowledge.
CTV News has spoken to two parents who say they are outraged after learning that their children’s art is appearing online, apparently for profit.
One of the drawings made by a 12-year-old student who attends Westwood Junior High School in Saint-Lazare, an off-island suburb west of Montreal, has been advertised for $151 on at least four different websites. .
His drawings and those of other classmates appear on multiple items, including T-shirts that sell for $55, coffee mugs for $41, and even iPhone cases, for $35 each.
“I’m very disgusted with this person. It’s extremely, you know, it’s unbelievable,” the girl’s father, Michael Bennett, said in an interview.
Bennett said he found out what happened when his two daughters returned home from school on Wednesday and told him that a classmate stumbled upon the teacher’s website after searching his name on Google. That student went to inform another teacher, she said, and within minutes, word quickly spread throughout the school about what they had found.
Both daughters’ artwork is for sale on various websites.
Joel DeBellefeuille says his 13-year-old son’s portrait, painted by a classmate, appears on several items for sale, including mugs, T-shirts and iPhone cases. (Source: 1-mario-perron.pixels.com)Bennett said the incident raises serious questions about ethics and the school’s selection process for teacher Mario Perron.
“Is this professor asking for certain types of projects to be made so he can sell them? Is he asking for these types of portraits to be made to satisfy the market? I’m not too sure about that aspect. However, “I’m not impressed at all with this person. “I’m not impressed with the school or the school board,” he said, adding that his two children are also shocked.
“They feel cheated.”
When contacted by CTV News, the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) did not answer questions about how many students are involved and what the teacher’s status is with the school board.
“The Lester B Pearson School Board is aware of the situation and is taking these allegations very seriously. An investigation is underway, so the school board cannot comment further on this matter at this time,” wrote Darren Becker, LBPSB communications director. in a brief email on Thursday.
Another parent, Joel DeBellefeuille, said his 13-year-old son came home from school Wednesday with the same “unbelievable” story about his art teacher. He said his son found a portrait of her drawn by his friend and posted on one of the websites that appear to belong to Perron.
He calls it an “extremely concerning” case that the school must address.
“It’s incredible that he felt he had the right to use and essentially exploit the rights of these children and their artwork for his own financial satisfaction,” he told CTV News.
According to Perron’s LinkedIn profile, he has been a full-time professor at Westwood Junior since September 2019 and describes himself as a “multidisciplinary studio artist.” In his profile, he promotes his personal website, 1-mario-perron.pixels.com, which is where Bennett and DeBellefeuille’s children’s artwork can be found.
Perron has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Both parents said they believe there are dozens of student portraits on teachers’ websites and are calling on the school board to take immediate action.
Philippe Brouillette, an intellectual property lawyer, said children, like anyone else, have moral rights to have their name associated with their work.
“When you are the owner, it is a negative right, no one else can do anything or copy your work unless you give them the right to do so. That’s what we call a license. You would give them a license to use your work or copy your work. Unless you give them the right to license it, you still own all the rights,” he said.
“In this case, having the professor or someone else put their name in would violate copyright law.
With files from CTV News Montreal’s Denise Roberts