School replaces teacher campaigning while on medical leave

A Toronto teacher who was on medical leave while campaigning for the federal election has been replaced at an east-end school.

Following a Toronto Star story detailing the frustration of parents at Earl Haig Public School, whose children have been without a full-time teacher since the start of this academic year, the principal announced Monday that the temporary teacher covering the leave will stay on for “the entire school year.”

In a letter to parents of the Grade 3/4 French immersion class, Jonathan Root said the decision comes “after a number of conversations with parents and (Toronto District School Board) staff over recent weeks.”

“Thank you for your trust and patience as we’ve worked through this process together since the start of the school year,” he wrote, adding he looked forward to seeing parents at a meeting Tuesday, where they could meet the new full-time teacher.

When parents arrived on Sept. 3 — the first day of school — they were expecting to meet Roseline Dorcin, who was to be starting at Earl Haig as the French immersion teacher for Grade 3/4. But she was on medical leave, and a supply teacher covered for a few weeks. Then in late September, a long-term occasional teacher was brought in and parents were told she would be staying on for a few months, or until Dorcin returned from a leave.

Parents, who were frustrated that their children did not have a consistent teacher, discovered various social media accounts under Dorcin’s name. Her postings suggest she moved to Montreal in the spring, was looking for a career change, ran unsuccessfully on Sept. 6 for the NDP nomination in Quebec’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount and then worked at an NDP office in the lead-up to the election.

The Star reached out to Dorcin repeatedly, by email, phone and on social media requesting comment, but did not hear back. At the TDSB she goes by the name Christine Dorcin — her full name is Roseline Marie-Christine Aline Dorcin, according to the Ontario College of Teachers. It appears as though teacher and candidate are the same person.

Roseline Dorcin, the candidate, seems to also be the teacher on medical leave.

According to the online posts, Dorcin was on a sabbatical during the 2018-19 academic year and appears to have been in a vehicle accident in the spring, which she wrote left her with “multiple non-life threatening fractures.” Photos of her in June show her with a cast on her lower right arm. Pictures posted throughout the summer show her at all-candidates’ events in the riding, and various community events.

Teachers on sick leave are entitled to 11 days at 100 per cent of their salary; and 120 short-term leave and disability plan days at 90 per cent of their salary.

After discovering Dorcin’s online presence last month, parents took their concerns to the principal, superintendent, trustees and the board’s director.

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird says the board is “investigating the allegations that have been made.”

Typically, when employees are off on medical leave they have their position, at the same school, held for them. However, he said, there “are some circumstances in which that does not occur for a variety of reasons. In those cases, they would return to a position in another class or school.”

Bird said the decision to keep the current supply teacher was made to “ensure students had a consistent teacher for the year — especially in a French immersion program where replacement staff are more challenging to find.”

“This decision was made a few weeks ago, however finalizing and communicating these arrangements took longer than expected,” he said Tuesday.

One mother, who asked not to be identified to protect the identity of her child, says she and other parents repeatedly raised concerns with the TDSB and believes the Star story, published Sunday evening, prompted the board to take action.

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“I understand they can’t divulge personal information, but I just felt like we were being kept in the dark and we were supposed to trust that they were taking care of it and it didn’t feel that way,” she said. “All of a sudden it gets to the media and in less than one business day all of a sudden we have a response.”

Still, she says parents are “relieved” their kids will now have a full-time teacher at the school, located near Danforth and Coxwell Aves., especially since there have been various disruptions in the French immersion program in recent years.

“Our kids will benefit from the stability and consistency of one teacher for the remainder of the year, but it’s incredibly disappointing that it took this amount of attention to get any action.”

Isabel Teotonio

TORONTO STAR

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