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Two Catholics educators subject of Ontario College of Teachers hearings

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Two educators are facing hearings at the discipline committee of the Ontario College of Teachers after incidents last year at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board's Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford.
Miriam King/POSTMEDIA

Two educators are facing hearings at the discipline committee of the Ontario College of Teachers after incidents last year at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board's Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford. Miriam King/POSTMEDIA

BRADFORD – Two Catholic school educators were suspended and are facing serious allegations in connection to high school literacy tests, a disciplinary committee at the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) heard this week.

The hearings, held on Monday, stem from incidents during March 2016 at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board’s Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford.

According to the OCT website, Christine Vellinga, principal at the time, was suspended without pay for 20 days and demoted to vice-principal and Andrew Burke, who was acting vice-principal at the time, was suspended without pay for 10 days.

The college alleges the two educators “failed to maintain the standards of the profession”, contrary to Ontario regulations.

The college also alleges the two “committed acts that … would reasonably be regarded by members (of the college) as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional” as well as engaging “in conduct unbecoming a member.”

Both Vellinga and Burke are still employed at the board, according to spokeswoman Pauline Stevenson.

“(Vellinga) is no longer at Holy Trinity but due to board policy we are unable to confirm the location of either staff (member) or where they are working now,” Stevenson said.

The college alleges the two inappropriately administered Ontario secondary school literacy tests (OSSLT) by reviewing test booklets after students had completed the tests.

“The (school) board conducted an investigation and determined 21 students were called back to the school for the purpose of completing parts of the OSSLT after the test was concluded,” the Ontario College of Teachers’ website states.

Vellinga is alleged to have directed staff members to review booklets to identify incomplete tests, calling 21 students back to school to complete portions of the OSSLT after the test was finished, directing students to specific parts of the test to complete, directing the vice-principal to return test materials back to the students to complete and to instruct students to specific parts of the test, not ensuring students were properly supervised while in possession of test materials and not keeping test materials in a secure and controlled environment.

According to the college’s allegations, Vellinga also told one student, “You were never here.”

The college also alleges that Burke provided Vellinga with incomplete test booklets, returned tests to students to complete parts of the OSSLT after the test was completed and also directed students to specific parts of the test booklet to complete.

“We take issues like this seriously and we made sure we did a thorough investigation to look into it and we responded appropriately,” Stevenson said. “We worked very closely with the students who were affected and made sure we could help them through their curriculum and academic requirements in the best way we could.

“We took what we felt was appropriate action and at this point the issue is in front of the Ontario College of Teachers and we’re going to let the investigation take its course.”

The June 19 hearings were both ‘set date’ hearings and the first steps of arranging schedules and dialogue between the parties involved, according to college spokeswoman Olivia Yu.

“Our hearings are open to the public, so information could be obtained either by attending the hearing or from the final decision, once it is available,” she said.

Further hearing date(s) will be posted in due course and will be available on the college’s website at www.oct.ca.

imcinroy@postmedia.com