SHOULD A SCHOOL BOARD HAVE TO REHIRE A KILLER?

In 1990 Jean-Alix Miguel was convicted of manslaughter and served seven years in prison after beating his common-law wife to death. In 1998, he was hired by the Montreal School Commission as an electrician instructor at one of their trade schools.

Miguel did not disclose his criminal record on his job application, as is required, and the school board refused to renew his contract after discovering this omission in 2004. The Board maintains that it did not renew his contract, not because of his criminal past but because he lied about it.

Miguel’s teacher’s union took his case to arbitration. The arbitrator ruled that Miguel did not pose a threat to his students and colleagues because he has a good teaching record and because his crime was not related to his work.

The Board then took the case to the Quebec Court of Appeal which last week rejected the appeal. According to Justice Marc Beauregard, there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the school board “did not want to employ someone who has been convicted of manslaughter, regardless of the circumstances of the offense and the rehabilitation of the perpetrator.”

Possibly implicit in the court’s ruling is the thinking the Board fired Miguel because of his criminal record but used the excuse that he lied about it. In any event the court ordered the Board to rehire the convicted killer.

Should the Board rehire Miguel straightaway or should it appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

What do teachers think? Should a board be forced to rehire a killer?

What do you think?

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16 Comments »

  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    I think the poor, downtrodden, discriminated-against Mr. Miguel should not only be rehired but given $3 million for all the pain and suffering the evil school board has inflicted upon him…NOT!

    This is about as ridiculous as the Supreme Court using the equality clause of the Charter of Rights to sanctify and justify gay marriages. A man kills another human being? And then he doesn’t disclose this on an application to work in a school? Please. This is a no-brainer. The man should be happy he is not spending the rest of his life doing hard time.

    Let Mr. Miguel be gainfully employed by working 9 to 5 as a dishwasher. That way, he can celebrate the freedom that he really shouldn’t be having without the rest of us having to cowtow to political-correctness.

  2. 2

    Tony:

    Is it really a no-brainer?

    Mr. Miguel did his time. His keepers say he is rehabilitated. Why should he be sentenced again to wash dishes rather than go back to his chosen profession?

    Furthermore, if Mr. Miguel had revealed on his application that he was a convicted murderer, do you think the school board would have hired him?
    I think not.

  3. 3
    Barbara Says:

    Neil, of which person would you have more respect: a convicted murderer, rehabilitated and who admits the past crime or one who does not? Do you advocate lying on such an application? Or only in certain circumstances, like you were a convicted murderer or child molester?

  4. 4

    Barbara:

    If this were a lie at all, it was one of omission, not commision. And it may well have been justified by the Jesuit moral teaching on “mental reservation”. If Mr. Miguel believed (rightly or wrongly) that he would not have been hired had he confessed to murdering his wife, then I believe he was justified in using a “mental reservation.” Do you?

  5. 5
    Barbara Says:

    No, to be honest. Where do you draw the line with “mental reservation”? Is it admissible in all circumstances? On the other side of the coin, the school board could look at the candidate more compassionately, considering the circumstances of the crime, his apparent rehabilitation and hire him for an appropriate position (which they unknowingly did) and make sure his behaviour is supervised for a time. If one falsifies the application, it vitiates any trust one might have.

  6. 6
    Cornelius T. Zen Says:

    Good morrow, all!
    Let’s see…Fact: Miguel beats his common-law wife to death. Fact: He is caught, indicted, convicted and serves seven years for manslaughter. Excusez-moi? When one beats another person to death, surely there must be some vague awareness of one’s location, intent and actions thereof. The Crown settled for manslaughter, although I’m sure the circumstances would have called for second-degree murder. But, I digress…
    Fact: Miguel applies for a teaching position, and JUST HAPPENS TO FAIL TO MENTION HIS CONVICTION FOR KILLING SOMEBODY. Yeah, right.
    Rehabilated? Hey, he was convicted of ONLY one homicide. Not like he has violent tendencies or anything like that, right? Sure, hire him, and put him into a population of young, impressionable people, some of whom might do something like mouth off, or push his buttons, or something unthinking and harmless.
    A “sin of omission?” Was the omission inadvertent, perhaps, something that just happened to slip his mind? Not like he’s a pathological liar, or some such heinous shortcoming.
    Fact: HE LIED ON A JOB APPLICATION. He cannot be trusted. Whatever the judges in the Court of Appeal are smoking, I do hope they have the courtesy of passing it around. I wonder what their decision would have been, had the man been an Anglo. Does that make sense? CTZen

  7. 7
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil: “doing his time” may have fulfilled his obligation to the justice system, but it an entirely different question whether he has fulfilled his obligation to either justice (an entirely different consideration from the “justice system”) or society. And, for that matter, to God (but we’ll leave that consideration to God and karma).

    At the very least, those who he seeks to interact with and enter into an agreement over the exchange of services rendered for salary have the right to know what he has done with his life. And, as I understand it, the school board was entirely within its rights to know whether he was a convicted criminal and, if so, for which offense.

    Would he have been hired had he disclosed his past, you ask? Probably not. But your “right” to be gainfully employed in your chosen profession (if, indeed, such a “right” existed in the first place) stops at the doorstep of my right to hire whom I want, provided I do not discriminate against you on a prohibited basis of discrimination…and the last time I looked, having the right to be informed whether you are a killer of human beings is NOT a prohibited base of discrimination.

    Yes, I would say a lifetime of doing dishes is most appropriate…

  8. 8
    Chimera Says:

    I’m pretty much in agreement with everyone. Lying on an employment application is grounds for dismissal everywhere in the country.

    And the profession of schoolteacher is one of those in which it is permitted (actually mandatory) to ask about previous criminal convictions, so I have my doubts that his neglecting to mention it was a “sin of omission.” It was very likely a straightforward question answered with an outright lie.

    I think the only exemption to this would exist if he had been granted a pardon at some point in time. But you haven’t mentioned it, Neil, so I’m assuming that’s not the case.

    Would he have been hired if he had told the truth? Maybe not. We’ll never know for sure. But, as Tony says, where is the “right” to have any particular job, just because you want it?

  9. 9
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    I agree with the courts ruling, on the reasonable grounds issue. He did the crime and served the time. He should be rehired.

    I dont like the man referred to as a killer. He was a man convicted of manslaughter, described as the unlawfull killing of a person without malice.

    Tony, if you owned a restaurant would you hire a disgruntled person convicted of manslaughter as a dishwasher?

  10. 10
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    He should not be rehired as a teacher. Perhaps the school board could put him in an adminstative job at its head office, but in a position where he is not in contact with kids who are very acute at finding the push button that brings the worts out of anybody liable to blow up…as Mr Miguel did.
    As for Jesuit teachings, Neil, I prefer my Sulpician teachers’ “a lie is a lie is a lie wether intended or not”.

  11. 11
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Peter: No, I probably would NOT hire a disgruntled person convicted of manslaughter as a dishwasher. But seeing as applications for dishwashing jobs are not vetted to the same extent as an application for, say, an engineer at a nuclear power plant would be, I suspect that the manslaughter-convicted person doing the applying would conceal this little gem of information and I would therefore hire them.

    Oh, and Peter, it is my pleasure to call someone convicted of manslaughter a “killer”, despite what the legal definition of the word is. May I suggest, Peter, that the things people get charged with and then, ultimately, convicted of are more a function of what the Crown feels they can win a conviction on rather than a function of the reality of the situation was when the “killer” did the killing.

    And as for “malice”, gosh, somehow, I am not able to imagine how a husband can go about killing his wife without any “malice” being present! Unless, of course, it was a mercy killing…was this a mercy killing? If so, then I very well may agree with Neil’s response to me…

  12. 12

    Paul and Tony:

    “A lie is a lie is a lie whether intended or not” is simply bad moral theology.

    No, Tony, it was not a mercy killing.

  13. 13
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Neil, I won’t argue theology with you, of course it’s not up my alley. However, I have much reservations about mental reservation in a case like this one. The guy was covering up to protect his hide.
    And I also agree that the thing someone is convicted of is more akin to what the crown can win than to the real offence. And I have seen it at work often. Plea bargaining is the most repulsive thing in my book. It allows people to very litteraly get away with murder.

  14. 14
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    I ment knowingly hire him, Tony.

    The arbitrator ruled on his behalf. The Quebec of appeal rejected the Boards case. Men and women of good will made the right decision, on the information available to them.

    Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary, we are all capable of violence, some people, under stress are more capable than others.
    involuntary manslaughter, can result in an unintentional killing without malice.

  15. 15

    Seven years?

    For taking a life?

    Ouch for real.

  16. 16
    littlepatti Says:

    This man should N O T be rehired or compensated.
    There is no place in the school system for a murderer. His rights? Apparently with a 7 year sentance for murder he has already been amply rewarded.
    He doesn’t have to wash dishes, he can retrain, and could have done that in the 7 years in prison.
    More important, this should be a “lesson learned” for school boards hiring personnel: EVERY employee should be thoroughly investigated!
    None of the information given by the hiree should be accepted without proof from an independant source.
    These days, universities don’t even accept copies of transcripts from students, they get permission to obtain them directly.
    Anyone who lies on an application for a job that puts them in contact with children, patients, etc should be sent back to prison for a refresher course.
    Sorry, Peter: No,we are not ALL capable of violence. But that’s always a good excuse.
    No sympathy or compassion from this quarter.


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