Kootenay teacher who disagreed with cross dressing students suspended, reprimanded - InfoNews

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Kootenay teacher who disagreed with cross dressing students suspended, reprimanded

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March 14, 2018 - 9:00 PM

Lots of people want to help and support various causes, but how best to do that can be very confusing or, in the case of a Southeast Kootenay teacher — expensive.

A high school teacher from School District 5 was suspended for two days because, according to a decision from the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulations, she disagreed with how some students chose to support the LGBTQA community there and voiced it.

In December 2016, a small group of Grade 11 and 12 students at the unidentified high school decided to cross dress.

Tami Lynne Chechotko, who has been teaching since 1992, questioned the motive and effect of their support.

“She told them that their actions were disrespectful and offensive, like painting your face black or wearing a feather headdress,” according to the decision.

She took up her concerns with the vice-principal who said administration was comfortable with it. Undeterred, she brought it up in her math class and noted it was an unplanned activity and made some remarks about people questioning sexuality and suicide.

“This comment was deeply upsetting for at least one of the students,” the report says.

Four students left her class and went to the library. When she found them, one of the students was “crying and pacing.”

“Once in the library, Chechotko became loud and agitated, interrupting and talking over the assembled students about why the cross-dressing was inappropriate,” the report says. “Students who heard this comment reported feeling very upset by it.”

She was later issued a formal reprimand, in addition to the suspension. Twice before she was issued letters of direction, once for “making upsetting statements to a vulnerable student and her family” and told to “not provide advice to students or families different from (school-based team meetings).

The Commissioner for Teacher Regulation was created in 2012 by statute and publishes the results of hearings on its website.

In his final annual report before the end of his five-year term, commissioner Bruce Preston said the commission has been successful.

“During my term, I have been impressed by the effect of the increased transparency given to teacher discipline under the Act,” Preston wrote. “Publication of reports of disciplinary outcomes has profound effects on teachers. I am confident that this aspect of the Act has modified the behaviour of teachers because of public reports of consequences to their colleagues.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones or call 250-718-2724 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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