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Bottom Banana

March 9, 2014 permalink

When teacher Renee Luise Oettershagen saw an eight-year-old girl throwing a banana in a garbage can, she retrieved it and forced the girl to eat it. The teacher has been suspended.

Children's aid has been notified. Janice Robinson, executive director of Haldimand and Norfolk CAS, says her agency is looking into the case. If the family is lucky, CAS will take no action. If they act, parents Jordan Stewart and David Tank will be facing the ordeal of getting their daughter back from a foster home.



Teacher off the job following 'rotten banana' incident

Jordan Stewart and Ann Marie Stewart
Jordan Stewart, front, of Port Dover, is not pleased that a teacher at Ecole Sainte Marie in Simcoe allegedly forced her eight-year-old daughter to eat food from a garbage can. In back is Simcoe lawyer Ann Marie Stewart, the child’s grandmother.


The teacher accused of making an eight-year-old girl eat food that had been thrown in the garbage is off the job at Ecole Sainte Marie until further notice.

Thursday, a spokesperson for the French-language school in Simcoe said Renee Luise Oettershagen “will not be present at the school” pending “resolution of the matter, be it disciplinary or other.”

“The (school board) is of the opinion that the teacher’s actions reflect poor judgment on her part,” Mikale-Andree Joly, spokesperson for the French-language school board in Toronto, said Thursday in an email. “Although the teacher has apologized, her behaviour is unacceptable and does not meet (the board’s) standards in terms of professional ethics as expected from all of its teaching staff. The (board) regrets this incident has taken place and sends its sincere apologies to (the girl) and her family.”

Parents Jordan Stewart and David Tank, of Port Dover, were alarmed last week when they learned that Oettershagen, a Grade 3 substitute teacher from Burlington, retrieved an aging banana from the trash can at Ecole Sainte Marie and made the eight-year-old eat it in front of the class. The girl reported Wednesday that the banana was “rotten.”

Oettershagen reportedly did the same thing on other occasions with sandwiches the girl had thrown in the trash.

The sandwiches were part of the school’s occasional lunch program. The girl threw hers out because she didn’t like lettuce. The girl’s family reports Oettershagen had retrieved the sandwiches, removed the lettuce, and made the eight-year-old eat them in front of the class. The reason given was to teach the students that food should not be wasted.

The girl’s family responded last week by pulling the eight-year-old and a younger daughter from Ecole Sainte Marie. The Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk has also got involved.

The school board responsible for the affairs of Ecole Sainte Marie is the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud in Toronto. As a gesture of goodwill, the board has offered to supply a private tutor for the girls while the board resolves the matter.

Once the banana incident came to light, the girl’s family learned that Oettershagen has a disciplinary hearing pending before the Ontario College of Teachers. Last year, allegations of “professional misconduct” and incompetence were brought against the teacher. According to the college’s website, a time and date for the hearing have yet to be determined.

Stewart has spoken to a board superintendent about the matter. She says the official told her that Ecole Sainte Marie was not aware of the college’s concerns about Oettershagen’s performance in Halton Region before she was hired in Simcoe.

In light of the board’s response, Stewart and Tank are prepared to send their children back to Ecole Sainte Marie. Stewart says their decision depends on whether the staffing situation there has been rectified to their satisfaction.

“I adore that school,” she said. “There are a ton of good teachers there. They need to figure out how that one bad teacher got in. Once they get this situation cleaned up, yes, I would be thrilled to re-enroll my kids. One rotten banana doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.”

The Reformer is withholding the identity of the eight-year-old girl at the family’s request. A phone message inviting comment was left with Oettershagen on Thursday. An email was sent as well. There was no reply as of press time.

Source: Simcoe Reformer