SHOULD A MURDERER BE A TEACHER?

In 1990, Jan-Alix Miguel, an electronics teacher with the Protestant School Board of Montreal, was convicted of killing his wife, Monique, a crime for which he served less than two years.

In 1998, Miguel, applied to the school board to get his old job back. H was asked if he had ever been convicted of a crime. He lied and said no.

In 2004 the school board learned of his conviction and promptly fired him. Then Miguel appealed to the Quebec Human Rights Commission. The Commission has just ruled in his favour because the crime he committed was not related to his work as required by Quebec’s human rights charter. The Quebec Superior court upheld that decision. Armed with these rulings, Miguel wants his teaching job back.

Wouldn’t you think a school board has the right to fire an employee who has lied about a serious crime?

Secondly, Miguel claimed he killed his wife in a “blackout.” What if he were to suffer another “blackout” in the class room if one of his students upset him?

Finally, should the school board appeal the decision that it must take back a murderer into its classrooms?

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13 Comments »

  1. 1
    John Says:

    Boy things must be different in Quebec than they are in Ontario. Here everybody in the educational system from the Director to the bus driver must submit an annual Criminal Records Check to the Board. I’m pretty sure murder would be seen as grounds for dismissal.

    If nothing else, this guy would be let go for falsifying his records. He claimed to have a clean criminal record which, in fact, he did not have. Must have slipped his mind.

    So let me get this straight. If the guy kills the school secretary, he can be fired. But if he kills his wife, he can’t be. How much sense does that make if you have a child in his class?

  2. 2
    jim Says:

    Neil:-This problem has gone astray. The School Board should have pleaded in court that they won’t take him back because he lied on his application form. The board’s poor thinking was that we don’t want him at school because he may murder someone, so let him roam about the general population, (where he may murder someone), and the judge read that, ergo the ruling.

  3. 3
    Joanne Nicholls Says:

    An employer should have the ability to terminate and employee for lying. I don’t know what the law says about hiring people with criminal records. Mind you, murder is a biggie.

    It would be interesting to see where the teachers’ union stood on the issue.

    I might feel a little uneasy knowing that someone who had “blackouts” and tended to kill people (or even just one person) might be in the classroom next to me. Like John says, in Ontario, we all have to submit to a Police Check before we are hired and must sign off that no major criminal charges have been accrued every year. Lying about this should be enough to be fired, if the actual murder conviction is not.

  4. 4

    John — I agree with you and Joanne that the Ontario system seems more sensible. Listen to this. A spokeperson for the Human Rights Commission said this: If you’re convicted pedophile, you can’t get a job in daycare. If you’re an arsonist you can’t get a job as a fireman. But if the crime is not related to your job, you can’t be discriminated against.” Ergo you are right. If he kills the school secretary or a student, he’s a gonner. As far as his school job is concerned, if he kills his wife, he’s in the clear.

    Jim – I don’t know why the school board didn’t concentrate on the lie. Presumably this ridiculous decision will be overturned by a higher court.

    Joanne – I think the un ion supported the teacher. But they would have to in this case, wouldn’t they?

  5. 5
    John Says:

    In fact, it was the teachers’ union that initially contested the dismissal and took it to arbitration. It is this “defend the member at all costs” mentality that doesn’t sit well with the tax-paying public. Then when the unions come looking for public sympathy, they wonder why it’s so hard to come by.

    How could the union (or arbitaror) not deem the act of murder to be linked to this person’s job and his ability to do the job. Because the courts have deemed him to be a free man doesn’t mean the Board should have to let him teach. There are lots of people who have been convicted of drunk driving who are out of jail, but are still not entitled to get behind the wheel of a car.

    As Neil so rightly points out, how can the union (or arbitartor), in good conscience, put someone with so little self-control into a roomful of young people who have the potential to upset him at any given moment. It boggles the mind.

  6. 6
    Barbara Says:

    The man in question was teaching in adult education.
    It would seem that lying about his criminal record would be reason enough to fire someone. However, the School Board, in its legally-advised “wisdom” chose to dismiss him for the nature of his criminal record.
    It is the union’s legal responsibility to defend its membership. If the School Board made a poor judgment and it must rehire that teacher, why don’t you express annoyance at the stupidity of the School Board?
    This man served his term in jail. If he cannot be a teacher in a trade school because he had once murdered his wife, for what other kind of job would having had blackouts and the committing of murder (actually, manslaughter) not be an impediment? Has he lost the right to work?

  7. 7

    Barbara – Has this man who murdered his wife (2nd degree murder) lost his right to work for the rest of his life? Unless we want to throw away the key for good, I don’t think so. The concept of rehabilitation is a central concept in our penal system. It would seem on its face that the place for rehabilitation would work best for him is as a teacher, the vocation he was trained for although perhaps not in the school that is trying to fire him.

  8. 8
    John Says:

    I’m not saying this fellow should’t be able to work again, but automatically giving him back his old job may not be the wisest move. The fact that he was teaching a trade would indicate he was trained to do something else before he became a teacher. Obviously, there are other options.

    The School Board has a responsibility to those entrusted to its care (whether they be adults or children) and to knowingly put someone who has mental health issues (blackouts), judgement issues (lies) and self-control issues (murder/manslaughter)into daily contact with large groups of those people would not seem prudent to me.

    Under the philosophy as expounded, exactly what crime would be deemed to be linked to the teaching of adults (if not murder)?
    I’m curious.

  9. 9

    John – “Under the philosophy expounded, exactly what crime would be linked to the teaching of adults (if not murder)? Am not sure what this sentence means.

  10. 10
    Barbara Says:

    What job could not be linked to murder? Maybe one of those forest rangers who man the watchtowers to look for forest fires!

    If a person has been deemed to be rehabilitated (I am not sure someone who lies about his criminal record can be deemed to be entirely rehabilitated), then he or she must not be refused employment for which they are qualified.

  11. 11
    John Says:

    The argument put forward has not been that the gentleman has been rehabilitated, but rather that his crime had nothing to do with his job. There’s a big difference.

  12. 12
    Barbara Says:

    That’s the point. The School Board chose that angle and ran afoul of the Charter of Rights. Had it denied him employment because of his lying, we wouldn’t be discussing this at length.

  13. 13
    Stéphanie Pagano Says:

    Comment peut-on espèrer que nos enfants et adolescents comprennent la gravité du crime si celui qui leurs enseigne à déjà commis un meutre? Cela reviens à dire faites ce que je dis mais pas ce que je fais…

    Je me pose de plus en plus de question sur notre système d’éducation et les valeurs ( quand il y en a ) de socièté qu’elle leurs transmets.

    Les jeunes n’est pas le présents de demain? N’est-ce pas notre futur? Un des crimes de cet enseignant a été de mentir pour obtenir son emploi. Le professeur se DOIT d’être une personne de confiance…Peut-on dire la même chose sur celui dont on parle?

    Ne se doit-on pas de prêcher par l’exemple? Le contraire me semble hypocrite,


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