Local teacher resigns after unprofessional conduct

  • Apr. 13, 2016 3:03 p.m.

A Red Deer Public school teacher has resigned after being investigated for unprofessional conduct with students last year.

Complaints surfaced in February 2015 regarding Lindsay Thurber High School teacher Louis Pelletier and the jurisdiction responded through supervision and evaluation along with other supports. Each concern was addressed and documented by school administration on an individual basis, officials said.

According to an Agreed Statement of Facts, it was heard Pelletier, a long-time employee of the Red Deer Public School District, would humiliate students in his class by making a student stand on their desk so Pelletier could hear the student and by writing on other students’ foreheads as well as making homophobic comments, among other things. The hearing stems from a number of complaints made last year, however, complaints date back to 1994, according to reports.

“There were a few one-off issues raised over the years. The school would say they felt like the issues were addressed at the time and things had improved. But the difference in this last year was the volume of concerns that were raised all at the same time and really brought some issues to light,” said School Board Superintendent Stu Henry.

Following complaints, a professional conduction complaint to the Alberta Teachers Association was filed in March 2015 and a formal investigation began. The outcomes of the investigation resulted in a professional conduct hearing which convened this past Monday.

Pelletier is currently before an Alberta Teachers’ Association disciplinary committee hearing after pleading guilty to one count of failing to treat students with respect and dignity, and one count of failing to maintain the honour of the profession.

Officials said there were two or three student complaints made to Lindsay Thurber last spring and from those individuals the ATA investigating officer learned the names of other students which resulted in about 10 students making comments regarding Pelletier and his misconduct. As well, the number of witnesses to events were between 20 and 30, officials also added.

Bruce Buruma, director of community relations for the Red Deer Public School District, said this is the first time something of this nature and magnitude has gone to a disciplinary hearing in the history of the district.

Pelletier has tendered his resignation effective immediately. The outcome of the hearing is expected in the next day or two.