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Queen's prof assailed for anti-vaccine teaching granted leave from course

02/09/2015 06:43 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Queen's University says a professor who has come under fire for teaching anti-vaccination materials will not lead the course in question for the rest of the term.

A spokesperson for the Kingston, Ont., university says Melody Torcolacci asked to be relieved of the responsibility for teaching Health 102 for the rest of the academic year and Queen's granted her request.

In an email, communications officer Rosie Hales says discussions are ongoing about the other classes Torcolacci teaches.

Torcolacci is an adjunct professor in the university's school of kinesiology and health studies; she has not replied to requests for an interview.

The university made headlines last week when a PowerPoint presentation from Torcolacci's first-year class showed what looks like a heavy anti-vaccination focus in her teaching.

University principal Daniel Woolf appointed provost Alan Harrison to investigate the situation, which a number of students have said they have complained about for the past several years.

Harrison said neither he nor Woolf was aware of the concerns about Torcolacci's vaccine views. But the local medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, said he wrote to the director of the kinesiology department two years ago to voice objections to Torcolacci's teachings, after reviewing course materials shown him by a friend's child who was in the class.

Gemmill did not receive a written response but did later speak to the department head, Jean Cote, "and I understood that this would be looked after.''

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