The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has reprimanded a Vancouver teacher after she duct-taped her students' mouths in an effort to keep them quiet.
Margo Fowler, a math teacher at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, is rated as a top-notch educator on the popular website RateMyTeachers.com, where students describe her as "helpful," "entertaining" and "Just. Plain. Awesome."
But documents posted on the Teacher Regulation Branch's website say Fowler was involved in three separate incidents where she broke professional standards by duct-taping the mouths of her students.
In one case, Fowler gave a talkative Grade 8 student an ultimatum to go to the school office or have his mouth duct-taped shut. He opted for the latter, and a friend then posted his picture on Facebook.
The second incident involved a Grade 10 student, whom Fowler also warned to be quiet or face the tape, before duct-taping his mouth shut.
The final incident saw a Grade 8 student, who was “talking loudly” in Fowler’s class, duct-tape his own mouth shut on her orders, the consent resolution agreement said.
The branch has issued Fowler a reprimand citing professional misconduct, but her students say the discipline is unfair.
"I think at the time it was probably not as bad as it's now being made out to seem," said Emma MacLeod.
"I don't think that she meant it at all in an aggressive manner. It was more of just a joke," added Anna Dilman.
But experts say the teacher should have known better.
"The student himself who made the choice to allow himself to be taped made a bad choice. But the teacher, as a model for youngsters, has to give them reasonable alternatives," said Charles Ungerleider, UBC professor of the sociology of education.
While the reprimand will remain on Fowler's file indefinitely, the Vancouver School Board expressed confidence in the veteran educator who has taught math for 20 years.
"We feel very, very confident that Ms. Fowler will be able to continue to do a very good job as a teacher at Churchill. We have the utmost faith in her abilities," said VSB spokesman Kurt Heinrich.
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