Former students spring to Penticton teacher’s defence

French immersion teacher facing discipline over inappropriate comments made to students

Former students of a Penticton teacher who’s facing disciplinary action for his in-classroom conduct have rushed to his defence in response to last week’s Western News story about the case.

French immersion teacher Miko McGrady was last week scheduled to begin a nine-day professional conduct hearing in front of the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch, but the hearing was cancelled after a deal was reached in advance. Details of that agreement won’t be known until it’s approved by the head of the branch, likely at the end of October.

The hearing was set to look into nine incidents that occurred between December 2009 and June 2010 while McGrady was teaching at Penticton Secondary School.

The incidents, listed in a publicly available citation on the branch’s website, revolve mainly around inappropriate remarks to his students.

Although McGrady, who’s listed on the KVR Middle School website as a teacher there, declined comment for both this story and last week’s, his former students did not.

Megan Oh, 18, said via email that McGrady taught her French during the 2010-11 year and “had a sense of humour that students could relate to, helping us connect with him as a teacher.”

She said she never saw McGrady bully any of his students, although the teacher was sometimes on the receiving end of “rather crude comments” from some of his kids.

“In some cases students did ask him for the French definitions of immature sayings, such as cuss words, but in his defence, many French teachers that I have had in the past have taught us words that aren’t considered appropriate. No one is perfect.”

Oh also questioned the motives of the complainants who, she said, had unenviable work habits and attendance records, and often shared with McGrady details of their personal lives.

Chris Kopp, 19, told the Western News via email that McGrady taught him French in Grades 8-12 and not only treated his students like young adults, he also “gave the utmost respect, especially when treated the same way back.

“He was like any other teacher and when treated with unrelenting disrespect he would simply send (trouble-makers) to the office,” Kopp continued.

Now a student at UBC-Okanagan, Kopp said he wants to be a teacher and he credits McGrady with helping him stick with the French immersion program when he thought about leaving it.

“Mr. McGrady does not deserve all this negative attention and I wish him the best of luck and an amazing future in his teaching career, he deserves it.”

A spokesperson for the Teacher Regulation Branch said last week that McGrady’s proposed consent agreement will be sent for approval to the branch commissioner during two days of meetings Oct. 30-31. The branch administers the teaching profession in B.C. and took over responsibility in early 2012 from the B.C. College of Teachers.

In the past, consent agreements have resulted in a variety of sanctions against educators, including reprimands and suspensions of their teaching certificates.