A teacher who once worked at an elementary school in Guelph has been slapped with a six-month suspension from the Ontario College of Teachers after it ruled she engaged in "several incidents" of inappropriate conduct involving 12 students.
The professional body's discipline commitee ruled after complaints were filed about the behaviour of Gail Louise Hall that included inappropriate physical conduct involving four students and inappropriate comments to seven. One child, referred to in the committee’s written decision as Student 4, allegedly faced both kinds of abuse.
The allegations date back to when Hall was a teacher at an unnamed Guelph school between 2008 and 2012. The students' identity is protected.
The committee found that Hall’s conduct would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional.
The misconduct included:
- Grabbing a student’s arm and shaking it
- Pushing a student out the door because she was too slow
- Grabbing a student’s shoulders and shaking him; taking a student by the shoulder, shaking him, and pushing him into a desk
- Not allowing a student to get ice from the office after she had fallen and hit her head
- Slamming a book down and threatening a student that she would lower him to a different level if he could not complete the work
- Telling a student his mother would not like his Mother’s Day art project
- Allowing a student to complete another student’s artwork while he was on vacation
- Telling one student her work was not as good as her sister’s
- Asking a student “baby, do I need to change your diaper?”
- Ripping artwork away from a student and telling him to “sit there and do nothing”
- Telling a student that if we wore pink he would grow up to be a homosexual man
- Yelling at students if they could not follow instructions or dance patterns
- Ripping up a student’s artwork in front of the class
The written decision stated that Hall's breach of trust was repugnant.
“These examples provide ample support for the finding that the member failed to fulfil her duties as a teacher, as set out in the Education Act,” said the written decision. “The member’s repeated disregard for her students’ well-being is alarming.”
During the hearings, Student 4 testified that Hall grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him during an art project. The student also testified that Hall told him he would grow up to "be a homosexual" if he coloured the pants on his Nutcracker art project in pink.
“Her conduct had a serious negative psychological impact on several students,” said the decision. “Students reported that they were frightened, scared or embarrassed by the member. At least one student received counselling, as he started bedwetting following an abusive interaction with the Member.”
“The student’s doctor diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with its roots in the abuse encountered with the member.”
College counsel noted that Hall’s misconduct involved many students over the course of several years.
Hall’s profile on the college’s web site listed her status as retired as of April 2015, but also notes the suspension, which was issued effective April 5, 2019.
Hall did not attend the hearings in Toronto and a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf. In the end, she was penalized with a suspension of six months and prior to returning to teaching must complete an anger management course and must pay $12,000 in costs to the College.
“College counsel submitted that the penalty and remedial protections sought were appropriate in this case given the seriousness of the Member’s misconduct,” said the decision.
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