A group of parents whose children attend Oakville Trafalgar High School in Ontario have given the school board a last chance to impose a dress code on a teacher who wears oversized prosthetic breasts with protruding nipples and tight blouses.
The parents’ lawyer sent a letter to Halton District School Board (HDSB) officials and the school’s principal, giving them until Dec. 22 to respond. The Epoch Times has obtained a copy of the letter, which suggests beyond that point the parents will take legal action, initiating a judicial review. One of the parents involved confirmed Dec. 23 that they did not respond.
The teacher has received international media attention and the school has received multiple anonymous bomb threats over the teacher’s attire.
HDSB has declined to impose limitations on the teacher’s attire or create a dress code, citing human rights concerns. On Nov. 9, HDSB Superintendent of Human Resources, Sari Taha, said at a board meeting that if the board were to impose a dress code, it would likely be found to be “discriminatory.”
Student Dress Code
Although the board does not have a dress code in place for teachers, the letter said it has a dress code for students. The letter highlighted a few aspects of that code, including: “Students have the right to express their self-identified gender. … Dress codes should prevent obscenity and/or pornography … Dress codes should prevent students from wearing clothing that ‘makes visible genitals and nipples.’”
The parents, via their lawyer Rishi Bandhu, said the teacher’s “chosen attire is not consistent with the values and beliefs reflected in the student dress code that obscenity, pornographic imagery and visible nipples have no place in a school environment.”
The letter asked the board to reply to specific questions by Dec. 22, including to what extent the student dress code applies to teachers.
“It is unreasonable and illogical to expect teachers to enforce the student dress code but not comply with it themselves,” the letter said.
The Epoch Times did not receive a response to inquiry as of publication from the three officials to whom the letter was addressed, Director of Education Curtis Ennis, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Tonya Rocha, and Principal Meredith Cammisuli.
The letter was also copied to the province’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce. He had instructed the Ontario College of Teachers in September to review its codes of conduct as regards the case. The College determined its current guidance was sufficient to handle the case and did not make further recommendations.
On Dec. 23, Lecce’s office sent The Epoch Times a transcript of comments Lecce made on Dec. 19 during media availability: “I do continue to believe that the Halton School Board, which is the employer, has an obligation to ensure that these classrooms are safe and respectful places to learn. Teachers need to uphold, as I’ve noted, the highest professional standards when they are in front of children.
“And so, I do not believe the board administration has done so to date. And I do believe the Ontario College of Teachers corroborates this principal. They said that the board has the necessary authorities to enforce those standards, so I expect them to do so.”
Bandhu said in the letter that a teacher dress code would fall under the purview of “school policies” as outlined in the Operation of Schools-General Act. The act requires that school council views are taken into consideration in establishing or amending school policies. HDSB’s Taha did not consult council, the letter said, in deciding not to impose a dress code.
The letter requests that the board confirm it will no longer interfere “with Council’s rights … to make recommendations concerning any matter, including teacher attire, generally, and … [the teacher’s] chosen attire.”
The letter concludes, “We look forward to your response to the above by December 22, 2022. My clients reserve their rights to pursue all forms of legal action concerning this matter, including judicial review.” A judicial review is a process by which courts make sure that the decisions of administrative bodies are fair, reasonable, and lawful.