Teacher Victims of Religious Discrimination

First Victim, discrimination in promotion

Grant Tadman

Grant Tadman graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Physical and Health education in 1972 and thereafter attended at the Faculty of Education, graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree in 1974.

Mr. Tadman describes himself as a member of the United Church of Canada.

From 1975 to 1986, Mr. Tadman taught at various high schools for the North York Board of Education.

In 1986, as a direct consequence of the application of Bill 30, Mr. Tadman agreed to transfer to the Metropolitan (Roman Catholic) Separate School Board (MSSB) as a “designated” teacher under the provisions of s. 135 of the Education Act.  He co-operated in solving a surplus teacher problem and had no concern about teaching in a Roman Catholic school.

Mr. Tadman reported for work in September and, despite the provisions of his transfer, which were to ensure that he had an essentially similar position to the one he left in the Public Board, he was never placed in a permanent teaching position.  Instead, he was assigned to work in a supernumerary teaching assistant position, as an in-school supply teacher, attendance secretary, receptionist, and file clerk.

Nevertheless, Mr. Tadman applied himself conscientiously to any assignment given to him and attempted to perform his duties in accordance with the Board’s own standards and requirements such that he never received any performance appraisals which in any way suggested incompetence or unsatisfactory teaching skills.

Although permanent teaching positions became available from time to time, the MSSB did not assign him to any position, despite its legal obligation to do so.  Mr. Tadman made a number of requests for a permanent teaching post, but he was turned down for reasons he considered unjustified.

Furthermore, while working for the Separate Board, Mr. Tadman was placed in a position which provoked religious intolerance and verbal harassment by staff and students because he did not share their adherence to the Roman Catholic faith.  The Board did not take any positive steps to eliminate the circumstances which gave rise to the conflict.

These stress-inducing conditions made it necessary for Mr. Tadman to take medical leaves for periods between 1987 and 1989, and between 1992 and 1994.

In April 1992 Mr. Tadman pursued his rights under the Ontario Education Act as entrenched in the guarantees promised by Bill 30 and filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.  The response in 1992 was that the Commission lacked jurisdiction to deal with the matter, and dismissed it.

In October 1992 the Office of the Ombudsman advised that it would not be investigating the complaint because it “concurs with the position taken by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.”

Grievances filed with the Roman Catholic Board produced unsatisfactory resolutions to Mr. Tadman’s concerns.

hi addition, Mr. Tadman made submissions to the Ontario courts pursuant to the provisions of the Ontario Education Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Again, an unsatisfactory conclusion was produced.

Notwithstanding the statutory guarantees enacted under the Ontario Education Act (Bill 30) in 1986, the experience of Mr. Tadman reflects the discriminatory application of these laws and the failure of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Ombudsman, and the Ontario court system to protect his rights as originally embodied under s.135 and s.136 of the Education Act.

Given the complete exhaustion of domestic remedies for the injustices he has endured, Mr. Tadman is left with no recourse except this current communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee pursuant to the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Second Victim, discrimination in hiring

Jeff Prentice

Mr. Prentice associates himself with the United Church of Canada and is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering who had been teaching mathematics and science on a part-time basis at St. Pius X Catholic High School in the City of Ottawa in the 1997-1998 school year.

Mr. Prentice applied for a full-time job at St. Pius X in the spring of 1998 when he became aware that there were approximately 200 new teaching jobs at the Ottawa-Carleton Separate School Board.

Despite glowing references and a petition from his colleagues at St. Pius X High School, Mr. Prentice learned that he would not be able to apply for any of these new teaching opportunities within the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board.

It became abundantly clear to Mr. Prentice that he was being rejected on the basis that he was not a practising Roman Catholic.

It had been Mr. Prentice’s understanding that when Ontario’s Roman Catholic schools were granted full funding in 1986, the Province had provided certain statutory guarantees vis-a-vis the hiring and promotion of teachers who would be required to transfer from the Public school system to the Catholic separate school system.

For a period of time there was a further understanding that publicly funded Catholic schools could no longer reject non-Catholic job applicants.  Indeed, the Education Minister in the Provincial Government warned the Ottawa-Carleton Separate School Board to “back off’ on a request that teaching applicants provide a letter from their parish priest.  However, as a consequence of an Ontario Superior Court ruling (the Daly case), it was held that the Canadian Constitution Act of 1867 protected Roman Catholic School Boards’ ability to discriminate on religious grounds and the preferential hiring of Catholics was reinstated.

Mr. Prentice takes the position that the social values instilled in him by the United Church are not that different from those taught by the Roman Catholic Church.

Notwithstanding Mr. Prentice’s skills and training, and the substantial recommendations he had received, his application to the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board was rejected.

The teachers at St. Pius X High School delivered a petition signed by approximately 35 colleagues to the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board. Further, Mr. Prentice requested an explanation as to the reasons why his application would not be considered.

Mr. Prentice received a terse note from the Roman Catholic School Board stating as follows: “….your application is returned because you are not able to provide a pastoral letter from a parish priest attesting to the fact that you are a practising Catholic,” signed by the Board’s Superintendent of Human Resources.

Mr. Prentice was advised that the Separate School system takes the position that Catholic teachers are required so that the system can remain distinct.  He was further advised that non-Catholics are only hired if a suitable Catholic candidate cannot be found.

The School Board emphasized that its first concern has to be the Catholicity of the teacher so as to ensure that Catholic values are expressed.

Mr. Prentice’s performance and expertise as a teacher were never in question, and he was rejected on the sole basis that he was not a practising Catholic.

It is our position that these particular requirements of the Roman Catholic separate school system reflect a further violation of Article 26 of the International Covenant.

In Waldman, the Human Rights Committee directed Canada to “make (public) funding available without discrimination.”  The experiences of Grant Tadman and Jeff Prentice indicate that the existence of a publicly-funded Roman Catholic school system in Ontario reveals further significant consequences with regard to the discrimination.

In the Province of Ontario, notwithstanding the original intentions of the Ontario Government as reflected in the enactment of section 135 and section 136 of Bill 30 in 1986, blatant discrimination continues to exist vis-a-vis the hiring and promotion of teachers in the Roman Catholic separate school system.

Comments are closed.

  • ---
Copyright ©2012-2013 Civil Rights in Public Education
^ Back to Top