Breach of probation charge laid against Cole Harbour teacher

Derek William Stephenson, a Cole Harbour District High School English teacher facing assault and mischief charges after an alleged altercation with a student, is now facing a third charge. He is charged with breach of probation.

Derek William Stephenson already faces charges of assault, mischief

Cole Harbour District High School teacher Derek Stephenson is shown in this 2012 image from a CBC story about a school rap performance. (CBC)

An English teacher at Cole Harbour District High School facing assault and mischief charges after an alleged altercation with a student now faces a third charge.

A charge of breach of probation has been added for Derek William Stephenson.

"Whoever was handling the file did not realize that my client was on probation at the time," defence lawyer Joel Pink said Friday. "As a result of that, they have laid the new charge."

Stephenson was arrested by police on Nov. 9, 2018 following an alleged incident involving a 15-year-old student on Oct. 3.

According to RCMP, Stephenson removed a pair of ear buds the student was wearing in the classroom. The student then grabbed Stephenson's lanyard and that's when police say Stephenson pushed the student into a wall and put him down on the floor.

Four-second video

A four-second video recorded by another student in the classroom was circulated on social media. It showed a man kneeling and briefly putting a student in a choke hold. The student was not injured.

Stephenson was not in Dartmouth provincial court Friday morning and his case has been adjourned until April 12.

"Now that the Crown has laid a new information I need time to consider it," said Pink. "In discussion with the Crown before today we've agreed, rather than setting the matter down, we would adjourn the matter to give me time to review it."

Administrators at the school knew Stephenson had a criminal history involving threats and domestic violence and had vouched for his character with justice officials.

That past included pleading guilty in October 2017 to threatening his ex-girlfriend, who is a teacher at another school, and a November, 2013 guilty plea for assaulting his ex-wife, a case in which a charge of assaulting his daughter was withdrawn.

In 2010, a woman also got an emergency protection order against him.

Following the 2013 incident, Barrett Khan, the vice-principal at Cole Harbour High at the time, provided a character reference for Stephenson's pre-sentence report

After his 2017 case, a fellow teacher at Cole Harbour, Peter Mahalik, acted as his surety to secure his release. In both of those cases Stevenson received a conditional discharge.

RCMP say nothing changed between the alleged incident and the breach of probation charge.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said while the charge was not laid at the outset, once the file went through the RCMP's court section a determination was made to add it.