Toronto

'I don't want you to blow up my class,' Peel teacher said in anti-Afghan comments

A six-month suspension handed to a high school teacher who told a student he didn't want any Afghans in his class was disappointing, a Muslim organization says.

Suspension handed to teacher was disappointing, National Council of Canadian Muslims says

A national Muslim group says it's disappointed in a six-month suspension handed to a Peel District School Board teacher who told an Afghan student he didn't want any Afghans in his class. (CBC)

A six-month suspension handed to a high school teacher who told a student he didn't want any Afghans in his class was disappointing, a Muslim organization says.

The licence suspension for the teacher sends the wrong message, Mustafa Farooq, executive director with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in a statement. 

"The reality is that [the teacher's] remarks devastated the student," Farooq said. "The fact that a teacher can racially abuse a student, and only face a slap on the wrist, is an insult to the notion of safe and inclusive classrooms."

Discipline records show the incident occurred at a school in the Peel District School Board just west of Toronto four years ago where the teacher was a construction technology teacher.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the teacher told the student, who cannot be identified, in front of others in the classroom: "I don't want you to blow up my class," the teacher said. "No Afghanis in here!"

Student said he felt like 'invisible person'

The upset student left the classroom and later told the vice-principal that he felt singled out and like an "invisible person sitting in the class." The teacher was suspended with pay pending an investigation. 

The issue involving the student was one of several incidents in which the teacher was found wanting. The others include kicking students out of class without explanation and allowing them to wander around unsupervised. The probe also turned up numerous health and safety problems involving him.

The disciplinary hearing, in November, was also told that 12 of 23 workplace inspections between 2011 and 2015 at the school turned up health and safety hazards in the teacher's woodworking classroom.

The licence suspension for the teacher sends the wrong message, Mustafa Farooq, executive director with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in a statement.  (David Bajer/CBC)

Those hazards included electrical dangers, obstructed exits, unsafe storage of items, and safety guards removed from machinery. The teacher appeared resistant to making needed changes. 

"Investigators concluded the member had a 'blatant disregard for health and safety recommendations'," the panel heard.

Similar problems involving same teacher occurred before

Similar problems involving the teacher had occurred before. In 2008, he was given a disciplinary letter for leaving students unsupervised and failing to address various safety issues and formally cautioned in 2011.

A year later, the board suspended him for five days without pay for various issues, including "inappropriate language" toward students and removing equipment safety guards. 

Ultimately, the disciplinary panel found the teacher had engaged in acts of professional misconduct, and lifted his licence for six months as recommended by the college and his lawyer. 

"It is unacceptable for teachers to make demeaning comments to their students, and to model that type of insensitive behaviour for their students," the panel said. "The member's misconduct was serious and formed a concerning pattern of inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour." 

The teacher, who had been in the profession since 2001, was also given a reprimand and ordered to take remedial courses.

The board initially fired the teacher in October 2016 but he was allowed to resign after a grievance. It was not clear what he has done since.

His hearing lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.