A teacher in Campbell River has been issued a one-day suspension of her teaching qualification after she conducted a “spontaneous exercise” to teach her Grade 2 gym class about segregation.
The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation issued the suspension to Diana Marie Lontayao, who does not dispute the facts of the consent resolution agreement. The agreement also notes that Lontayao agrees that in conducting the exercise, she “failed to treat student [sic] with dignity and respect and did not show sufficient care for their mental and emotional wellbeing.”
The one-day suspension is in addition to previous discipline issued by the school district, including a 20-day suspension without pay, a required course and being reassigned from the school.
On Feb. 15, 2022, the school made an announcement over the PA system to teach students about Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman elected to the Canadian legislature in honour of Black History Month.
Lontayao then asked her class if they knew what segregation meant.
When students did not seem to understand, she decided to hold a “spontaneous exercise” to explain to students.
She asked one student to cordon off a small corner of the gym with cones and said to her class “all the brown kids, you go into that corner.”
Children who were visible minorities then went into the corner and were given one noodle to play tag, while the rest of the class was given three noodles.
“Lontayao told the students that the two groups of students could neither play nor talk with one another,” the agreement says.
After the students had been playing for awhile, Lontayao blew her whistle for the students to have a water break. She told the children in the majority group could get water first, while the ones playing in the corner had to wait.
“At this point, one of the students (‘Student A’) in the minority group began to cry. Student A briefly left the classroom with the Educational Assistant,” the agreement says.
“Lontayao then explained to the students how unfair it was that in the past, they would not have been allowed to play together on account of their race, and that it was because of the efforts of people like Rosemary Brown that today they could play and learn together.”
The agreement says when Student A returned, Lontayao apologized and brought the activity to an end.
On March 15, the school district issued Lontayao a letter of discipline and suspended her for 20 days without pay. She served the suspension from March 28 until April 22.
She was also required to complete the course Learning about Racism, offered through the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. She has since completed the course.
The district also reassigned her from the school.