Political Correctness Rules — Toronto Teacher Fired for Handing Out “Inappropriate” Jokes
“An Oakwood Collegiate drama teacher who handed out seven pages of violent and racist jokes to his students as part of an assignment has been fired.
The Toronto District School Board confirmed Wednesday that Jeff Jones has been dismissed.
Jones was put on “home assignment” after parents complained he had distributed a handout filled with jokes about blondes, sexual violence and dead babies.
Trustee Maria Rodrigues, who oversees Oakwood, said Wednesday she “fully supports the decision made by the board of trustees tonight to terminate Jeff Jones.”
“I am beyond disappointed that this occurred at Oakwood and that students were subjected to this inappropriate behaviour,” she said. …
The Star reported Jones handed out 100 jokes to his grades 9 and 10 students in early January and asked them to develop a comedy skit based on five jokes on the list.
Some parents were outraged by the assignment and complained; others thought the incident was blown out of proportion.
Ben Kutsyuruba, an expert in ethical and legal issues in the classroom at Queen’s University, said the jokes were “very explicitly inappropriate” and breached the ethical standards enforced by the Ontario College of Teachers.
Reaction to Jones’ dismissal was swift, with some former students and parents suggesting it was a loss to the school and education system.
“I think it’s terrible,” former student Samuel van Schaik Muir told the Star. The 23-year-old professional actor credited Jones with steering him into his chosen career. “I just graduated from an acting program at the University of Windsor . . . and it was Mr. Jones himself who encouraged me to do it.
“He was a great drama teacher. Yes, of course his methods were controversial. But he had nothing but the utmost respect for his students.”
Parent Helena Soukup, whose daughter took civics and drama with Jones, was shocked. “There has been a witch hunt to take him down for whatever reason,” she said. “He’s one of the top two teachers my daughter has ever had. He’s a phenomenal human being.”
Jones taught at Oakwood for eight years. Many of his students credit him with helping them win honours at the Sears Ontario Drama Festival for three years in a row.”
The Star didn’t publish any of the jokes, thus making it difficult for their readers to judge what the controversy was all about.
Jeff Jones grieved his firing, as the Toronto Star (March 7, 2013)reported: ” he Oakwood Collegiate Institute drama teacher fired for handing out violent or sexually graphic jokes about blondes and dead babies as homework isn’t leaving quietly.
Jeff Jones, who was dismissed by the Toronto District School Board on Wednesday evening, will be lodging a grievance and already has a group of past and present students clamouring for his reinstatement.
“He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had, hands down,” said Kyra Soukup, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student who was in Jones’ class this year. “The fact that he could get fired over something like this is ridiculous.”
A 2011 Star investigation showed that some teachers found to have committed sexual misconduct weren’t fired but transferred to other schools in a practice referred to as “passing the trash.”
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation confirmed that it would be filing a grievance with the board over Jones’ firing.
“We’re going to argue that it’s excessive,” said Doug Jolliffe, president of OSSTF District 12, which is representing Jones. If the grievance is turned down, the union can take the school board to labour arbitration, he said. …
Jones was sent home with pay in January, after a parent complained about seven pages of sexist and violent jokes she found in her child’s backpack.
The decision to fire Jones was announced at Oakwood Thursday by principal Ellen Austrom.
Students have launched a petition on Change.org, called Keep Mr Jones at Oakwood, which had 172 signatures as of Thursday evening.
Several students told the Star that the offending assignment had been around for years and that the administration was aware of it but did nothing until they received the parent’s complaint. “