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Was teachers' fake Disney World student trip prank funny or cruel?

Categories: Canada, Community

A prank that started with a misleading Disney World brochure in a teacher's desk and ended with a slide presentation to the whole graduating class at an Ontario public school is being called "bullying" and a breach of trust. 

One teacher at Roseland Public School in Windsor, Ont., suspected that students were rifling through his desk. He planted a false brochure in his desk advertising a Grade 8 graduation trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

He said that the school's staff allowed rumours about the students' upcoming Disney World trip to swirl unchecked.

Several days later, teachers prepared a PowerPoint presentation, complete with pictures and video, to lead the kids to believe the Florida trip was in the works.

The show's final slide revealed that the graduation trip would actually be to a local bowling alley.

One of the adults in the room videotaped the fake presentation and the resulting shocked and disappointed reactions of the students. The video was then shown to other students.

"At first, I was really excited about it, but when we found out it was a joke and everything, I was kind of speechless," student Tira Copeland said. "I didn't know how to react at first, but then I felt really kind of depressed about it and upset."

Psychologist Noreen Chevalier said she was "shocked" when she heard about the prank.
"I consider this bullying. It's too elaborate. This joke was preplanned. It's not just a joke. This has gone beyond that because they see the teachers in an authoritarian way," Chevalier said. 

"To be humiliated as a group is shameful for them. Shame attacks your heart and your being. This is more than embarrassment. Shame is deeper than that," she said.

The Greater Essex County School Board disagrees with Chevalier's definition of bullying.

"Would I call it bullying? I'm not sure I would call it bullying, although it was obviously poor judgment," said Warren Kennedy, the board's director of education.

The board acknowledged the story has generated considerable backlash from the community.
"We have received a number of calls from people, and not necessarily everyone who has a student at that school, and it's been fairly consistent in its condemnation of the teachers' actions," said Kennedy.

What do you think? Was the teachers' prank on their students funny, a demonstration of poor judgment or cruel bullying? Let us know in the comments below. 

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Canada, Education, POV

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