Principal dealt with properly, former school official says
"I did the best I could with the information that was available to me at that time," former superintendent Annette Ramrattan said Wednesday. "I had no complaints in writing. I was unable to get any further information from the community at that time. And I think the best I could have done was the taking away his designation and suspend(ing) him."
On Tuesday, Leonard Lethebe was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the Alberta Teachers' Association for having an affair with one of his grade 11 students in Wabasca, who later became pregnant with their child. The ATA has asked the province's education minister to take away Lethebe's teaching certificate.
Lethebe pleaded guilty to two counts of unprofessional conduct - for having both a romantic and an inappropriate relationship with the student, who was then 17. However, he pleaded not guilty to the charge he had sexual intercourse with her, because he said she was no longer a student when their sexual relationship began. The young woman also told the disciplinary hearing she was 18 at the time.
But school records presented at his disciplinary hearing showed she was still registered at the school. The ATA panel found him guilty on all three counts.
On Thursday, Education Minister Dave Hancock said he needed to wait for a 30-day appeal period to pass before he could comment on the situation.
"Obviously I have viewpoints, but I think it's appropriate for me as education minister, as the person who has to make that final judgement, to wait until the processes have expired," Hancock said.
Former superintendent first alerted in June 2008
Ramrattan said she was first alerted to the situation when she received an anonymous phone call in June of 2008 suggesting that Lethebe had been seen with the student.
"I questioned Mr. Lethebe and he informed me that it was not true, the rumour was not correct, that he had been trying to assist a young lady who had problems with alcohol and drugs and tried to get her to return to school," she said.
Ramrattan ordered Lethebe not to have any contact with the student nor to go on any school trips she was on. In October, Ramrattan received a complaint from a staff member that Lethebe had gone on a sports trip with the girl, which prompted his removal as principal of Mistassiniy School.
However, despite the suspension, Lethebe was allowed to teach math at the division's school in Calling Lake, a decision Ramrattan said she had nothing to do with. A new superintendent came on board in November after she left the division and any information about Lethebe was passed along, she said.
Last month, Education Minister Dave Hancock dismissed the 23-member board of the troubled Northlands School Division and appointed an official trustee to oversee operations.
A three-member team was also appointed to examine the way the school division has been run and was given six months to come up with recommendations