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Teacher's discipline includes three-day suspension, anger management classes

A Cowichan Valley School District teacher has completed a three-day suspension that ran Wednesday through Friday and will take anger management courses by Aug. 30 following incidents that took occurred a year ago.

A report was made by the School District to the Teacher Regulation Branch in July regarding the conduct of Penelope Dawn Abgrall. A Consent Resolution Agreement was drawn up by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation Bruce Preston, and signed Dec. 31, 2013 in Vancouver. Abgrall had already agreed to the terms imposed Dec. 14.

"The purpose of discipline is to change the behaviour, not to publicly shame,'' commented District 79 Superintendent Joe Rhodes. "We are confident that in this circumstance that change has been achieved. All discipline in our district is administered by the board. We have a legal duty to report out all occurrences of discipline to the TRB. Discipline is a progressive process that has been negotiated and placed in the collective agreement.

"We recognize there has been a change in the Teacher Regulation Branch process of reporting out to the public to be more transparent.''

"This has come to light due to changes in the Ministry's Teacher Regulation Branch,'' concurred Cowichan District Teachers' Association President Naomi Nilsson.

"The incident being reported was dealt with through district protocol over a year ago. The district and the union have worked with the teacher to ensure success in the classroom.''

The report indicates Abgrall was teaching a Grade 8 math class at L'Ecole Mount Prevost Middle School on Jan. 7, 2013 when. during a lunch break, she told a female student she was doing her math wrong and criticized her for not doing schoolwork during the Christmas break. Abgrall told the student she was going to fail unless she worked harder.

Conflicting versions were offered about what happened next. Abgrall started yelling about working harder and was pushing and kicking desks and chairs, although she said she was doing so to put them into order.

A student left the classroom because he was scared by Abgrall's conduct.

Abgrall then threw a math book across the classroom. She said she was putting the book away, but the female student and another perceived it as being thrown.

The female student got up to leave but sat back down after Abgrall yelled at her. The student worked on math until told she could go.

The District suspended Abgrall without pay for five days in September 2013. The Commissioner proposed a consent resolution agreement to Abgrall in accordance with Section 53 (1) (a) of the Teachers Act.

Letters of expectation were previously issued by the District to Abgrall on June 27, 2008 and June 5, 2009 regarding her obligation to treat students in a respectful and professional manner.

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