Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Student Gets Real Sex Ed
March 10, 2007 permalink
When Nelson A Boylen Collegiate Institute needed a family studies teacher, they hired the best — a qualified teacher with experience as a children's aid worker. She taught her students so well that she will soon give birth to one of their children.
Teacher accused of sex with student
Woman is pregnant after alleged relationship and teen has left high school, police say
She was a child protection worker who taught family studies and now she's a high school teacher accused of having sex with one of her teenage students.
Toronto police have charged Paola Queen, a 35-year-old teacher at Nelson A. Boylen Collegiate Institute, with one count of sexual exploitation after they received a Crime Stoppers tip earlier this month about an alleged inappropriate relationship between a high school teacher and a student.
She is pregnant and is at a "substantial stage" into the nine-month term, Det. Peter Duncan said yesterday.
The student, who has left the north Toronto school on Falstaff Ave. near Jane St., is believed to be 17 and cannot be identified by law.
"This was a very good student, someone who has since left school" and the reasons, while not conclusively known, are "directly related to that pregnancy," Duncan said.
Police allege Queen began a romantic and sexual relationship with the teen not long after she started teaching at the school in September 2005, "one that has continued, to our knowledge, to the present time," said Duncan, of 31 Division. Both speak Spanish, a source said.
A student in Queen's parenting class said she often saw the teacher and two brothers in a car together. "She would let them drive," said the 15-year-old who asked not to be identified.
Queen was obviously pregnant and recently told students not to give her grief in class because of her condition, the student said.
Family members on both sides were also aware of the relationship and the pregnancy, police said.
"From our investigation it appears that both relatives of the accused lady and the victimized youth knew of this relationship and had for some time, several months at least," Duncan said.
Police exercised two search warrants and they found photographs showing the pair with other family members.
The teacher had been living with the student "for short periods at least before she was arrested."
Queen was arrested on Tuesday night.
Under the Criminal Code, no one is allowed to have a sexual relationship with anyone under 18 years old if they are in a position of trust or authority "and certainly any teacher would follow under that description," said Duncan.
A young person at that age is "at an obvious stage in their emotional development" where they would be vulnerable to "friendly behaviour and given a degree of affection would fall into a position where they would develop an emotional attachment with a teacher as somebody in a position of authority."
While he doesn't now appear to be traumatized, "this could be a young man who could take years to fully understand the impact on his life," he said. "I think this is something, morally, is going to disgust some people."
Supt. Roy Pilkington, who runs 31 Division, said it's not uncommon for men in positions of authority to victimize young females, but added: "It's very rare – I've been a police officer for some 34 years – and this is the first case I can recall in Toronto ... where we've had this reverse situation."
Queen has been released with conditions not to attend the school in question. She is to appear at in court April 17. She has no children of her own and is not currently married but may be separated or divorced.
She is also to have no contact with the youth. Duncan admitted this could prove to be problematic if he is indeed the father of the baby. "That's another sad dimension."
Queen is a former child protection worker with Toronto's Catholic Children's Aid Society.
The family studies teacher is now on home assignment, which means she's on leave with pay until the matter has been resolved in the courts.
"That's normally the case when a teacher has been charged with a criminal offence," said board counsel Grant Bowers.
"That's normally their status until the matter has been disposed of by the courts."
If found guilty, she'll be fired; if she's acquitted or the charges are withdrawn, the board will still conduct its own investigation before deciding if she's allowed to return to work, added Bowers.
In a letter sent home with students yesterday, principal Linda Curtis said it's alleged that Queen began an inappropriate relationship "soon after she started as a teacher" at the school in September 2005.
Queen became a teacher in June 2005 after obtaining a bachelor's degree in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. According to the Ontario College of Teachers, her qualifications are in the areas of family studies, individual and society, and visual arts.
She also has two undergraduate degrees – in arts and social work – from York University, dating back to 1995.
The Toronto District School Board first heard of the allegations from police, Bowers said. He could not say if the school had previously received any complaints about Queen.
The student is not currently attending Nelson A. Boylen, although sources said he has not been transferred to another school.
Even though the charges were laid just days before March Break, the Toronto board has arranged for counselling during the holidays should students or staff request it. A meeting will be scheduled following the break for parents to air any concerns or to seek advice on how to discuss the issue at home.
"Our primary goal is to make sure that the students aren't upset, and to provide any counselling that students may need," said Bowers. "When a person in authority in a school community is charged with anything, it can cause ripples in the school community."
Bowers said the Toronto board has one of the toughest policies regarding relationships. No employee – teacher or any other staff member – is allowed to have sexual relations with a student.
"Any teacher or other employee found guilty (by the courts), or found by us on the balance of probability to have abused a child in any way, is terminated immediately," he said.
"If these allegations are true, and that's a big if, it's extremely regretful and another example of how we have to be vigilant and protect our kids."
The Ontario College of Teachers, the profession's governing body, says if the board alters Queen's terms of employment "if it restricts her teaching duties or terminates her, they must let us know," said communications officer Brian Jamieson.
After receiving the complaint in writing, the college will investigate, and information would be forwarded to an investigation committee to decide if an official disciplinary hearing is warranted. The college's investigation is separate from that of the police.
In cases where teachers are found guilty of professional misconduct for having sexual relations with students, they stand to lose their licence – and, if that happens, it's almost always permanent, said Jamieson.
Bowers said he will notify the college on Monday.
When asked if the boy's family could sue the board, Bowers said that Canada is "rather unique because since the year 2000, the Supreme Court has held school boards and other institutions vicariously liable" for the inappropriate actions of teachers and other caregivers of children.
Source: Toronto Star