Teacher convicted of sex offence put on leave
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:11PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:55PM AST
A former Nova Scotia teacher convicted of committing a sexual offence will not be heading back to the classroom anytime soon.
Education Minister Ramona Jennex has ordered the South Shore Regional School Board to put Peter Speight on administrative leave.
Jennex says she is trying to restore a stable learning climate for the students after two nights of emotional public meetings at New Germany Elementary School.
Meetings were held at the school in New Germany Monday and Tuesday night in an effort to provide information, facilitate discussion, and make parents feel safe, but instead, emotions ran high and tempers flared.
“Who’s the judge that has guts enough to turn around and make this pervert something that we should be fighting over?” asked one parent at the meeting.
“Why would you put an individual like that in a situation like this where they might be tempted to reoffend?” asked another.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the parents got their wish.
Jennex stepped in and instructed the South Shore Regional School Board to place Speight on administrative leave until the status of his teaching certificate is complete.
"I have been closely watching the events of the past few days in New Germany," said Jennex in a statement released Wednesday.
"The students of New Germany Elementary School need a stable, positive learning environment. This directive will ensure that the students and parents will be focussed on learning while the judicial process continues."
Speight was a Grade 3 teacher at the school, eight months into his permanent contract, when he was charged with committing an indecent act.
The incident involved him calling a woman over to his car and then masturbating in front of her in the Halifax area in 2008.
He pleaded guilty to the charge in the spring of 2009 and was fired by the school board a month later.
However, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled last month that Speight was unreasonably fired.
“My recommendation as superintendent to the board was that he not continue to teach,” says Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, superintendent of the South Shore Regional School Board.
“The decision of the governing board was to discharge him from his position and that stance has not changed.”
However, until today, the school board’s hands were tied after an arbitrator ruled Speight should get his job back, as well as $150,000 in back pay.
While Speight has been placed on administrative leave, the state of his teaching certificate is still up in the air.
It was cancelled, and while the arbitrator has ruled it should be reinstated, the Education Department has asked for a judicial review.
A date has yet to be set for the hearing. Until then, the department says Speight will remainon administrative leave.
CTV News has been unable to reach Speight for comment.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster