Please note that this letter below was formally filed on November 16 with the Ontario College of Teachers by Michael Teper.
November 16, 2021
Dr. Derek Haime, OCT
Registrar and CEO
Ontario College of Teachers
101 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 0A1
Dear Dr. Haime:
I am writing to request that the College consider this letter as a complaint of professional misconduct regarding Anne Marie Longpre (OCT 536265).
Ms. Longpre is an English and Drama teacher at Marc Garneau CI (“MGCI”) in Toronto, Ontario.
On November 12, 2021, a large number of students at MGCI walked out of class and engaged in a demonstration in the streets near the school. The organizers of the demonstration claimed the total number to be several hundred. The demonstration was about the Israel/Palestine conflict, and perceived inequities about how the TDSB was addressing situations involving various students and staff members expressing their views about the conflict.
At the demonstration, some of the students displayed a poster bearing the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. This slogan has been used by and is associated with various organizations identified by Public Safety Canada as designated terrorist entities, including Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamiya (“Hamas”) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The use of this slogan therefore creates a climate of fear and intimidation against members of the school and broader TDSB community among students of Israeli national background and/or Jews.
On November 12, 2021, Ms. Longpre published on her Twitter feed the following statement: “Today at my school, hundreds of students walked out of class in support of #freepalestine."
On November 13, 2021, Ms. Longpre published on her Twitter feed the following statement: “So proud of our Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute students! #FreePalestine Toronto District School Board, I hope you’re listening: our students need your support.”
Evidence of the content of Ms. Longpre’s Twitter feed is available at Anne-Marie Longpre (@mslongpre) Twitter Tweets • TwiCopy
By endorsing this demonstration on her Twitter feed, Ms. Longpre violated professional boundaries between teachers and students. Given the power imbalance between teachers and students, Ms. Longpre’s remarks create an environment where students of Israeli and/or Jewish background, or students who merely disagree with the protest, would reasonably consider themselves unable to fully participate and learn in her classroom.
The OCT’s Professional Advisory on Professional Boundaries dated October 1, 2020 states that “Ontario Certified Teachers (OCTs) understand the imbalance of power they have with students and are careful to manage their responsibilities with respect and integrity. As professionals, OCTs are expected to demonstrate good judgment and common sense at all times. Their actions should be as transparent as possible and have the appropriate consent of supervisors and parents/guardians.” The advisory lists as examples of boundary violations: “promoting the idea of educator as friend or confidant” and “treating students preferentially”. By publicly expressing approval of students in her school expressing specific political opinions with which she agrees, Ms. Longpre has, in my opinion, created a reasonable apprehension that a route to her approval (and presumably success in her courses) is publicly demonstrated agreement with her politics, and potentially vice-versa.
The OCT’s Professional Advisory on “Maintaining Professionalism – Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media” dated September 27, 2017 states: “Maintaining professional boundaries in all forms of communication, technology-related or not, is vital to maintaining the public trust and appropriate professional relationships. However, when more informal communication channels are used with students and parents, professional boundaries can begin to blur.” The Advisory further states that: “There is a distinction between the professional and private life of a teacher. Ontario Certified Teachers are individuals with private lives; however, off-duty conduct matters and sound judgment and due care must be exercised. Teaching is a public profession. Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that teachers’ off-duty conduct, even when not directly related to students, is relevant to their suitability to teach. Members must maintain a sense of professionalism at all times – in their personal and professional lives”. Again, by publishing these statements on social media, Ms. Longpre has, in my opinion, violated the public trust and appropriate professional relationships between herself and students at her school.
In view of the above, I respectfully request that the College initiate an investigation into whether Ms. Longpre’s statements on social media constitute a failure on her part to uphold the standards of the teaching profession by violating professional boundaries between herself and students at her school.