The case of a teacher accused of abusing 200 children prompts Alberta to review its disciplinary process

EDMONTON – Alberta’s education minister is preparing to withdraw the province’s teachers union’s teacher disciplinary process after it was revealed that the body failed to notify police of the misconduct of a Calgary teacher who would later be accused of abusing some 200 students for almost two decades.

The new legislation that is being worked on, and which is expected in the spring, would eliminate the disciplinary process of the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA), a union that represents more than 40,000 members in the province.

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange called it a “conflict of interest” for the union to oversee disciplinary hearings for teachers, saying the measure is just one of several new measures being rolled out in the wake of the widespread case of abuse.

During an interview with The Star, LaGrange said Canadian provinces are also discussing creating a national registry of teacher misconduct.

In addition, he said he will soon file an order in the council that would ensure that all complaints against teachers in his province that are sent to the ATA are also reported to the Alberta Education Registrar and the ministry. If something “really egregious” happens that “looks criminal,” the government would notify the police, he said.

“I am in a position to do something to fix this process,” LaGrange said. “I am a mother of seven. I am a grandmother of seven. This could be my daughter involved in this case. “

The measures come after a $ 40 million class action lawsuit proposal was filed last month naming the Calgary Board of Education and Michael Gregory’s estate as defendants. Gregory, a former Calgary teacher who began working in 1986 and died earlier this year, is charged in the statement of sexual abuse of many high school students.

The accusations have not been proven in court.

The complaint says the Calgary Board of Education must be held accountable as it failed to act on Gregory’s misconduct, which the plaintiffs say he did not try to hide. The plaintiffs, three former John Ware Junior High students, two of whom say they were sexually abused by Gregory as teenagers, say school officials were notified of his conduct but nothing was done.

Plaintiffs’ estimates put the number of abused children at 200, but authorities have not released a public confirmation of that number. The plaintiffs say the alleged actions took place between at least 1989 and 2005.

LaGrange’s footsteps also follow revelations that the Alberta Teachers Association knew that Gregory had physically and mentally abused students after he launched an investigation into their misconduct.

The ATA never notified police of its findings in 2006 and it was not until 2020 that the Calgary Police Service received its first complaint against Gregory.

The organization has previously said that “the nature” of “many of the more recent allegations” regarding Gregory were not part of the 2006 investigation. It also said its role is to assess the complaints in relation to the standard of teaching. .

“If we were to initiate a complaint elsewhere, it could lead to a bias apprehension and potentially jeopardize the results of our legislative processes,” he said through a spokesman last week.

In 2006, an ATA committee found that Gregory had “physically and mentally abused his students,” according to a hearing report.

Found that he “abused, endangered, and degraded” students by head-hitting at least one, force-feeding the “navel hair” of a student, Gregory, receiving a back rub, and taping. adhesive a student to a tree.

The ATA also discovered that he had “had an inappropriate relationship” with two female students with whom he had discussed intimate details about his own life, had sent them messages and calls at all hours and “speculated on what it would be like to have a sexual relationship.” with them.”

In Gregory’s 2006 case, he would be declared ineligible for association membership for two years and recommended to the minister of education that his teaching certificate be suspended for two years. Gregory did not return to teaching afterward and, in 2021, committed suicide in British Columbia just days after Calgary police indicted him on 17 counts of sex-related crimes involving six former students.

LaGrange called the fact that the ATA failed to notify police about what it found in 2006 “unacceptable.”

Some provinces, like Ontario, have teacher colleges that oversee the disciplinary process for teachers, while others have a government commissioner.

LaGrange said he has been in talks with other provinces about creating a national registry in which teacher misconduct can be recorded, regardless of the province in which it occurred. Discussions continue on whether the registry could be public-facing or internal to Canadian registries, he added.

“I’ve read some of these cases and I’ve literally been sitting there crying,” LaGrange said.

“I can’t imagine, you know, what these kids have been through and really, all they did was go to school and trust their teacher.”

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