School District 43 studies Plehanov acquittal decision

School district 43 superintendent Tom Grant - FILE PHOTO
School district 43 superintendent Tom Grant
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

Aleksandr Plehanov's future with School District 43 is uncertain despite his acquittal today of all charges by a provincial court judge.

Judge David St. Pierre found the former Coquitlam substitute teacher not guilt of sexually assaulting and touching five young female students.

SD43 superintendent Tom Grant said Monday he had not yet read the entire judgement but trusts the decision by Judge St. Pierre.

"From his perspective, the information did not reach a standard that could prove guilt in this case," Grant said. "We now have to re-engage with Mr. Plehanov since he is an employee and we have not completed our investigations. We will be going forward with those at this point."

The district suspended Plehanov from his substitute teaching job in March 2010 but was unable to conclude its investigation because of the RCMP's investigation, which resulted in criminal charges being laid.

Grant said it could take some time before any decisions about Plehanov's employability and status are resolved, noting the district will also wait to see if the Crown files an appeal of his acquittal.

"If it's appealed, we will not pre-judge the results from that, we are going to be careful on how we go forward," Grant said, noting that the district will be working with the Teacher Regulation Branch, formerly the BC College of Teachers, on the file.

In May 2010, the college suspended Plehanov's teaching certificate and a spokesperson for the new Teacher Regulation Branch said a public hearing would have to be held before any reconsideration of his status as a teacher.

The district is now requiring principals to contact an assistant superintendent and a human resources manager in complex cases involving possible misconduct of a sexual or physical nature.

"They review the information and then make decisions [about] where to go with the case. If the complaint is of a sexual or physical nature that can be considered criminal, it's reported to police, they take over the investigation and tell us when we can conduct ours," Grant said.

In addition to adding the extra layer of reporting, the district has also stepped up its training with administrators so they understand all the steps, Grant said, adding, "We have ensured our policies on reporting around misconduct are aligned with the province, the requirements and community expectations."

He said the district's priority continues to be ensuring the safety of its students.

"It's regrettable that we went through this," he said. "It put some undue strain on students and parents, for sure, and teachers and the profession.

"We trust the judge's decision and we look forward to making sure everyone understands our protocols and practices."


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