School district calls for ‘professionalism policy’ after teacher controversy

Move follows outcry over high school teacher wearing large prosthetic breasts in classroom

School district calls for ‘professionalism policy’ after teacher controversy

Having been told in a November report that the implementation of a formal staff dress code or grooming standards could lead to “considerable liability,” the Halton District School Board (HDSB) is moving ahead with such a policy.

After a private session discussing the issue on Jan. 3 at the Ontario municipality, a subsequent meeting on Jan. 11 resolved that the director “develop a professionalism policy which outlines the HDSB’s expectations of all staff members, including the requirement to maintain appropriate and professional standards of dress and decorum in the classroom in keeping with the provisions outlined in the body of this report.”

Back in September, Ontario’s education minister asked the Ontario College of Teachers to review professional conduct provisions after photos emerged of the teacher in question.

The Oakville, Ont. high school teacher garnered considerable attention online after being photographed wearing large prosthetic breasts in the classroom, along with a wig of long, blonde hair.

The policy is to be presented in a report to the Board of Trustees by March 1, 2023, with an interim report in February 2023, according to the latest meeting.

Director of Education Curtis Ennis said the HDSB’s “commitment to human rights remains rooted in our core values,” according to a statement to CTV News Toronto, and the new policy will be informed by employment law firms “with human rights and equity advisors.”

“This commitment and approach will continue to be applied as the HDSB looks to fulfill this motion.”

Back in 2021, an elementary school teacher in Quebec was removed from her class because she wore a hijab to work. This was in accordance with a controversial law in the province, but usually such a ban would lead to a human rights challenge, says Nicole Toye, an employment lawyer and partner at Harris & Company in Vancouver.

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