Aggressive teacher’s firing dismissed by Quebec tribunal

The teacher’s conduct was so reprehensible that it triggered an investigation by youth protective services.
The teacher’s conduct was so reprehensible that it triggered an investigation by youth protective services. (Photo: iStock)

A fourth grade teacher who had taught for 30 years was fired by a Quebec school board in 2014, because of aggressive behaviour towards his students.

His behaviour was so reprehensible that it triggered an investigation by youth protective services and he ended up being criminally charged for some of his actions. He was found guilty but given an absolute discharge.

A few examples of his behaviour included:

  • Grabbing and squeezing the arms of several students in order to force them to leave the classroom and go into the hall;
  • Nudging a student in the stomach with his foot to get him to move;
  • Throwing shoes at a student’s stomach; and
  • Calling a student “little fatso” and another “carrot-top”.

Despite all these physically and verbally harassing actions and despite the criminal charges, his union still believed that the teacher was dismissed unfairly.

The union brought the case to an arbitration tribunal, arguing that his criminal conviction is not enough to justify a firing, especially since he was given an absolute discharge, which they claimed is comparable to a pardon and therefore his dismissal violated the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

This case raises an important question, mainly why would the union dispute the teacher’s firing when the he had a long record of aggressive misbehaviour?

A union has discretion whether to take a case to grievance. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that employees don’t have an “absolute right to arbitration”.

This case was not just about his criminal charges but rather the teacher’s display of contempt and cruelty towards his mostly 10 year old students.

The tribunal itself found that the school board did not come to their decision to dismiss the teacher lightly but given the series of aggressive and violent incidents that occurred over a 14-month period, they had little choice but to let him go.

The tribunal dismissed the union’s grievance against the school board.

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