BC teacher suspended for separating students by race

Nov 26 2022, 12:06 am

A BC teacher was suspended without pay and moved to a different school after she tried to teach Grade 2 students about segregation by separating them by race for an activity.

Diana Lontayao, a teacher in the Campbell River school district, conducted an impromptu gym class lesson in February after an announcement over the PA about Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman elected to a Canadian legislature, during Black History Month.

Lontayao asked her students if they knew what segregation meant, and they didn’t appear to understand.

To illustrate the concept, Lontayao had the students corner off a small corner of the gym with cones.

“All the brown kids, you go in that corner,” she said, according to a discipline resolution document published this week on the BC government’s website.

Three students in the class who were visible minorities went to the corner and were given one noodle to play tag.

The rest of the class was given three noodles to play with.

Lontayao told the class the two groups couldn’t talk to each other and let them play.

After some time had passed, the teacher blew her whistle for a water break. She announced the children in the majority group could get water first, and the students in the corner had to wait.

At that point, one of the students in the minority group began to cry. The child briefly left the gym with an educational assistant.

Lantayao then ended the lesson and explained to the students how unfair things were in the past, and that they wouldn’t have been allowed to play together because of their race.

She said it was because of efforts by people like Rosemary Brown that they could play and learn together today.

Lontayao apologized to the student who cried at the conclusion of the activity.

According to the document posted by the BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, some students reported not understanding why Lontayao conducted the activity and more than one student reported being very upset by it.

“Lontayao failed to treat a student with dignity and respect and did not show sufficient care for their mental and emotional wellbeing,” the consequence document said.

About a month after the lesson took place, Lontayao was suspended for 20 days without pay. She was also ordered to complete a course called Learning About Racism from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

The commission also reassigned Lontayao to a different school.

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