Remarks land Penticton teacher in hot water

Penticton teacher faces discipline over allegations of insulting comments directed towards students

Dated allegations of homophobic and other off-colour remarks to students in his classroom may soon catch up to a Penticton teacher.

Miko McGrady should learn by the end of the month what, if any, sanctions he will face for a string of a comments he allegedly made to his students from December 2009 to June 2010 while working as a French immersion teacher at Penticton Secondary School.

According to a citation issued by the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch:

* McGrady told a female student he smelled because he slept with her mother the previous night and hadn’t yet showered.

* In response to a comment by an openly gay male student, McGrady said in French, “I hate fags.”

* An openly gay male student was singled out when McGrady referred to him as “flamboyant.”

* McGrady remarked to his class that a female student who was absent might have had “morning sickness.”

* Besides inappropriate remarks about other teachers, McGrady also made inappropriate comments about students’ sexual activity and use of drugs and alcohol.

A nine-day disciplinary hearing into the matter was set to begin Monday, but was cancelled last week after a proposed resolution was reached between McGrady and the Teacher Regulation Branch, which is expected to approve the pact later this month.

In the meantime, McGrady is still “employed in the district,” confirmed Okanagan Skaha School District superintendent Wendy Hyer.

She said the district investigated, and substantiated, the allegations, then passed on its findings to the Teacher Regulation Branch for disciplinary action. Hyer noted, however, that the matter is a “personnel issue” and therefore she was not able “to discuss specifics with the public.”

The superintendent also declined to confirm where McGrady works because, “I don’t want reporters phoning him at the school and harassing him at the school.”

McGrady is listed on the KVR Middle School website as one of its Grade 7 French immersion teachers.

Hyer said if parents of McGrady’s current or past students “have a specific concern, they could bring it forward and it would be investigated, as it would be in any other case.”

Reached via email, McGrady said he was not able to comment on the matter due to issues around confidentiality.

Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union president Leslea Pryde said the process has been hard on the educator.

“It’s pretty difficult for him, but he’s working, he’s doing the best he can,” she said.

Pryde said that despite the school district’s findings, the allegations are still unproven in the union’s view, and she noted the cancellation of the disciplinary hearing will limit McGrady’s ability to clear his name.

The most dated allegations are almost three years old now, and Pryde said the delay in getting the matter to a hearing was partly caused by the dissolution of the B.C. College of Teachers, and the subsequent creation in January of the Teacher Regulation Branch due to concerns about the college’s impartiality.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Scott Sutherland said neither the branch nor the ministry would comment on McGrady’s case until his proposed consent resolution agreement has been signed by the branch commissioner during meetings Oct. 30-31.

According to the Teacher Regulation Branch’s website, the consent agreement process is voluntary and should result in an agreed statement of facts and “some action against the individual’s certificate or certain conditions on his or her practice.”

Such actions could range from a reprimand to a suspension of McGrady’s teaching certificate.