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Suspended Penticton teacher felt pressured to take deal

An embattled Penticton teacher said he only admitted to three counts of professional misconduct to put the matter behind him and protect his family.

Miko McGrady was originally cited for nine allegations of inappropriate conduct between December 2009 and June 2010 while teaching French immersion at Penticton Secondary School.

He was then scheduled to meet with the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch in mid-October for a nine-day disciplinary hearing, which was cancelled a few days prior when McGrady admitted to the three incidents and accepted a two-week suspension. The suspension was made public Oct. 30 and a case summary was released Nov. 7.

McGrady said in an interview Thursday that he felt pressured by the TRB and his union-appointed lawyer to take the deal and avoid the hearing.

“I said, ‘Well, I don’t like the idea of that, but if it means it protects my family and it’s kept out of the media, I’ll sign it. And I said it under the condition that all those other allegations are thrown out, which are outrageous.”

The next day, the TRB posted on its website the original allegations, said McGrady, adding the claims were brought forward by a single female student who had an axe to grind.

“I think that she disliked me, but I think more importantly than that, she had such poor attendance that she was trying to find a way to pass by throwing me under the bus.”

The most serious of McGrady’s admitted misconduct was making a homophobic remark in French to an openly gay student, but it was misconstrued, and “I didn’t intend to hurt his feelings or to bully him or to put him down in any way,” McGrady explained.

The student had just turned in a quiz with nothing written on it besides something “along the lines of, ‘I hate French,’” McGrady said, adding he was so disappointed he responded by telling the student his quiz answer was like McGrady saying he doesn’t like gay people.

“I was a little upset so I said it quickly and I said it in French and he may have missed out on the part where I said: ‘That would be like me saying.’”

McGrady also admitted to allowing students to leave class during instructional time to visit a nearby convenience store, but he said it was common practice at the school, which had an open-campus policy, and he only did so if the students’ work was complete and marked.

Finally, the teacher admitted to speaking with students about a notice of investigation he received from his employer about the allegations, but said the discussion was initiated by students who were going to be interviewed as part of the probe.

McGrady, who will return to his classroom at KVR Middle School on Nov. 19, said he’s grateful for the support he has received from students, parents and other teachers.

 

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