Parents of students at a Toronto school are frustrated that a Grade 3/4 French immersion teacher — who’s off on medical leave and has been campaigning in Montreal for the upcoming election — has not been replaced.
The frustration stems from the fact that even though Roseline Dorcin is on a medical leave, she ran unsuccessfully for the NDP nomination in Quebec’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount last month; then posted on Facebook that she planned to work at the NDP office during the election; has said on social media she’s now living in Montreal; and states on a Linkedin profile under her name that she’s “looking for a career change.”
Given all of that, some parents at Earl Haig Public School, located near Danforth and Coxwell avenues, are wondering why she hasn’t been replaced. Instead, their children were taught by a supply teacher for much of September and now have a long-term occasional teacher, who is temporarily filling in.
“I’m disappointed in the (Toronto District School Board) that they’re unable to give us a full-time teacher for our children,” said a parent, who asked not to be identified to protect her child’s identity.
“Clearly the person who’s assigned to be the full-time teacher is not interested in being a teacher, as she’s publicly stated on her social media ... Yet, the TDSB is holding a full-time position for this person at our school, so we can only have a short-term teacher.”
This would have been Dorcin’s first time teaching at Earl Haig. 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.
The Star reached out to Dorcin repeatedly, by email, phone and on social media requesting comment, but did not hear back.
Teachers are entitled to 11 sick 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 posts, parents voiced their concerns to the principal, superintendent, trustees and the board’s director.
Andrea Szego, past chair of the parent council at the school, said, “We need a resolution.”
“It’s mid-October ... and yet there’s no security of consistency,” said Szego, whose daughter is in the class. “Our kids deserve better, (they) deserve to feel secure in the presence of a teacher throughout the year.”
TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said the board can only confirm the teacher is “on leave” and said the board is “currently looking into the issues raised.”
“In general, should employees be found to have misused leave, it can result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.”
Teachers, especially those on extended medical leave, are supposed to provide medical documentation certifying their inability to work. And while on sick leave they are replaced with occasional teachers until they can return to their teaching assignment.
Bird said it’s difficult to comment on what activities someone too ill to work can undertake while off the job — and, that each case is unique.
Joy Lachica, president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, was unaware of the “very unusual situation.”
“I will be taking steps to probe this and contact the member (Dorcin),” said Lachica, who heads the local of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, which is the union representing teachers.
According to a Linkedin account under Dorcin’s name, she began working at the TDSB in September 2012 and in 2018-19 took a sabbatical. It appears as though sometime around May she was involved in an accident because in July she posted on Instagram a photo of a mangled U-Haul truck and said that two months earlier she had been in an accident on Hwy. 401, driving to Montreal from Toronto with her belongings. “I survived with solely multiple non-life threatening fractures. I left the hospital shaken but determined to a speedy recovery,” she wrote.
Social media pictures posted in June show Dorcin with a cast on her lower right arm, which is off by July. In late June, she posted campaign material on Facebook, announcing she was running for the NDP nomination in the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount. Throughout the summer, she posted various images and political material, including photos of herself at all-candidates’ events in the riding, at the Montreal Pride Parade with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, and at various community events.
Dorcin was scheduled to teach at Earl Haig this fall, but when parents showed up on Sept. 3 — the first day of school — they were told a supply teacher would be filling in. Days later, on Sept. 6, Dorcin ran for the NDP nomination in the Montreal riding, but lost. On Sept. 11, she wrote on Facebook: “This election, I’ll be working at the Head Quarter office to convince people to cast their vote in advance polls for a social democrat government!” And on Sept. 15, she posted a photo of herself at the NDP campaign launch in Sherbrooke, Que. On one of her Facebook accounts, she advertises that she is available for “Political Analysis and Opinion” and that prices vary.
After the Star reached out to Dorcin inquiring about her work at NDP offices in the lead-up to the election, the Sept. 11 post appears to have been deleted, along with various others.
Parents were surprised to see in her online posts her suggestion that she had moved to Montreal, was running for, and then later working for, the NDP. (There’s nothing that prevents a current teacher from running for office, except for the position of trustee.)
It appears she did not intend to be here, said one mother, who asked not to be identified to protect the privacy of her child. “So how did we end up in a position where we were left scrambling to find a substitute at the last minute?”
Parents at that school have never met Dorcin and cannot verify if the woman in the social media posts are her, but it appears as though teacher and candidate are the same person.
The mother noted this is the third time in four years students in the French immersion program have faced a disruption in their school year for various reasons. Parents have been told the current long-term occasional teacher will remain there for the next few months, unless Dorcin returns sooner.
“The part that is super frustrating is that we are holding a spot for someone at the school who has made it well-known that she doesn’t want to be there,” said the mother. “We really just want this year to be consistent for the sake of the kids.”
Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74
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