Press Release 2005
For immediate release
October 13, 2005
UNCONSCIONABLE DECISION PUTS ONTARIO 'S CHILDREN AT RISK
Queen's Park: Frank Klees, M.P.P., P.C. Education Critic, called the decision by a disciplinary panel of the Ontario College of Teachers "unconscionable" and "irresponsible" in allowing the reinstatement of a former kindergarten teacher found guilty of professional misconduct for viewing child pornography. Equally offensive is the proposed re-instatement of a high school business teacher currently under suspension after pleading guilty to two criminal counts of distributing child pornography.
"We have parents who are worried enough about their children getting to and from school safely," said Klees. "Now we can't even assure them that their children are safe in the classroom from those who have been involved with viewing and distributing child pornography. The College of Teachers have got their priorities seriously confused about whose interest they are mandated to protect."
Klees is calling on Education Minister Gerard Kennedy to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure these decisions are reversed and that the teaching certificates of the offenders be permanently revoked.
Klees points to the recent Holly Jones case to emphasize the very real and tragic consequences of child pornography.
"On the one hand, Maria Jones (Holly's mother) is dedicating herself to campaigning for stricter penalties for child pornographers, and on the other hand our education system is harbouring offenders in our classrooms," said Klees.
"Child pornographers are a parent's worst nightmare. To think that the Ontario College of Teachers is knowingly sending these people back into the classroom with our young vulnerable children is just unconscionable," Klees said.
Klees vowed that he and the Official Opposition will vigorously oppose the government's plan to make changes to the governance of the College of Teachers by giving control of the College's Board to "working teachers", citing these incidents as examples of why decision-making at the College of Teachers cannot be left to individuals who are all members of the same union organizations.
"This Minister of Education has been quite vocal about bringing forward legislation to ensure that "working teachers" hold the balance of power at the College of Teachers ," added Klees. "This presents a real conflict of interest when issues like these are being brought forward in disciplinary meetings. The College may insist that members are leaving their affiliations at the door, but I believe students and parents would take serious issue with that given these glaring examples.
Gerard Kennedy needs to re-order his priorities and ensure our kids are protected. He should be bringing in legislation to accomplish that kind of protection, as he promised to do in this Legislature on June 21, 2004. That should be his first priority."
For further information
Frank Klees, MPP
Klees to Education Minister "Protect our kids"
Frank Klees made the following statement in the legislature April 20, 2006
© 2008 Frank Klees, M.P.P. All Rights Reserved