An L.V. Rogers student says she was shocked to learn one of her teachers was disciplined partly for an incident she was involved in.
According to a decision issued by the BC Teacher Regulation Branch on September 5, Paul Belanger marked a student’s math test in front of the class and commented on her performance, causing her “distress and embarrassment.”
Tiyena Krause, who is now in Grade 12, says she was the student, but the description of the incident lacked context and she never complained about it.
Krause said it occurred during the second semester of the last school year. Belanger had never marked anybody’s test in front of a class, but did so because she was pestering him for her mark. Neither anticipated she had done poorly. Krause said Belanger marked her test on a projector and made suggestions as he went along.
“[It was] constructive criticism,” she told the Star. “It’s hard to take that in front of your whole class, but distressed is not the right word. After class, he apologized and let me re-test, which isn’t something he normally does. He acknowledged he made a mistake.”
A week or two later, a school administrator asked her about the incident. “I explained we made up, I retested, he apologized, we’re completely fine. It wasn’t a big thing.”
That was the last she heard of it until the disciplinary decision was released. Belanger was suspended for five days in the spring by the district, reprimanded by the regulation branch, and ordered to take a boundaries course.
“I knew he was suspended for something, but didn’t realize I played a part in it,” Krause says. “I had a good student-teacher relationship with him.”
She doesn’t know who complained on her behalf. She has since tried to set the record straight with district administrators, but doesn’t feel they took her seriously.
Krause also said she is familiar with other incidents mentioned in the disciplinary decision and doesn’t believe they were portrayed accurately either.
For instance, the decision cited Belanger for a game called Question Friday in which students put questions in a box that he answered, “sometimes addressing topics not related to school which made some students uncomfortable.”
However, Krause says it was a way for Belanger to relate to students and there was nothing negative about it. “It’s questions about class, about curriculum … There would be inappropriate comments from immature kids, but he wouldn’t answer. It wasn’t what everyone assumed at all. Being in class versus just hearing or reading about it, it’s harmless.”
Krause, who took math with Belanger in both Grades 10 and 11, joins a chorus of students who have defended him publicly following news of the disciplinary decision. She said there have also been numerous Facebook comments vouching for him as a teacher.
But she says it wasn’t easy to step forward. She worried publicly supporting him might upset other teachers, parents, or community members, but ultimately decided she couldn’t stay silent.
“I don’t want to just sit back. Belanger is such a good teacher and helped me so much. I feel bad knowing I was involved in something that brought this upon him.”