L'Anse au Loup parent wants apology after nasty Facebook post
Caution: This story contains strong language
The mother of a 15-year-old boy in L'Anse au Loup wants a public apology on Facebook, after a teacher wrote disparaging words there about her son and her parenting skills.
The name-calling exchange came as a result of a schoolyard incident that took place during a routine fire drill at Labrador Straits Academy in April.
Sandra O'Dell said a boy threw ice chunks at her son, Kyle. Although Kyle retaliated by throwing one back, a female student was mistakenly hit in the face by the ice chunk, cutting her face.
The ice hit the daughter of Maurice Smith, who is a teacher at the school. The girl needed two stitches.
Kyle was brought into the principal's office, and was suspended for the rest of the day, plus three days the following week.
O'Dell also grounded her son, and accepted his suspension as being just.
However, that evening another parent emailed O'Dell a screen shot of a posting that Smith made on Facebook.
'I said to him that like, 'You don't know me from the man in the moon, why get on and speak on my parenting skills?'" - Parent Sandra O'Dell
Smith described O'Dell's son as "a little shithead punk."
Smith also wrote: "Too many parents, even if only a minority, lack the skills to be raising kids and then uphold them in whatever they do. Schools have little or no power to deal with all the bullshit, so the crap continues."
O'Dell said when she viewed the post, she was "blown away."
"I couldn't believe a man in his profession would do such a thing," O'Dell told CBC.
Taking further action
"We come home Sunday night from the cabin, and Monday morning we went to the school, went to see the principal at the school. And when we got there apparently they were expecting us, because the principal got the same message the same night that we received it, and it was already gone to the school board when we got there Monday morning," she told CBC News.
So somebody else either approached the school or ... I don't know," she said.
O'Dell said the principal wouldn't say much, but "told us it was gone to the school board."
Teacher apologizes to son
O'Dell said Smith later apologized to her son. "I said to him that like, 'You don't know me from the man in the moon, why get on and speak on my parenting skills?'"
"I mean he took his punishment and I agreed with the punishment. They were out fooling around, suffer the consequences. But to put there [that] we lack the skills as parents to raise kids? He [doesn't] know me," O'Dell said.
A little shithead punk- Teacher Maurice Smith, referencing student Kyle O'Dell
"He didn't want to talk about the email he put on Facebook. The meeting was mostly to apologize to Kyle, my son. So he said he was sorry? He apologized to Kyle, yes. He didn't apologize to me 'cause I told him from the get-go I wouldn't accept your apology anyway. And up to now, Kyle hasn't either," said O'Dell.
As well as a public apology, O'Dell wants to know if the teacher was disciplined.
CBC News called Smith's home for a comment, but has not received a return phone call.
Messages have also been sent to the Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher's Union.
School board has no social media policy
When contacted by CBC, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said it does not comment on "specific human resource matters," but said there was an issue of a teacher making inappropriate comments on social media.
"Incidents such as this are taken extremely seriously and the matter was reviewed by the district and appropriate action was taken," the statement said, adding that "expectations for appropriate behaviour by teachers are high, including online and social media activity."
The board said discipline for failing to meet expectations "could include a letter of reprimand, suspension (with or without pay) or could ultimately lead to termination."
The board, which was formed in 2013, said previous school districts in the province did not have specific social media policies that it could adapt. It said the board is now reviewing practices on social media, "with the intention of developing a policy."