Former students of disgraced Calgary teacher 'disappointed' to learn ATA did not report findings to police 15 year ago
Former students of a disgraced Calgary teacher charged with multiple sexual assaults say they were "shocked" and "disappointed" to learn he had admitted to abusing other students back in 2006, yet police were not informed of the criminal allegations at the time.
Details of an Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) disciplinary decision were made public this week. At the 2006 hearing, Michael Gregory admitted to inappropriate behaviour, physical abuse and relationships with two female junior high school students with whom he discussed his emotional health and marital issues.
Gregory's teaching certificate was suspended for two years, one for each count of unprofessional conduct. The ATA did not forward this information to police and it was not obligated to.
"I think the ATA not reporting that to authorities was a very disappointing failure," Kelly Schneider said on Wednesday.
Schneider was a student at John Ware Junior High, where Gregory was a teacher, from 1988 to 1991. She is part of a proposed $40 million class action lawsuit against Gregory's estate and the Calgary Board of Education.
Schneider says that, when she was a teenaged student, Gregory sexually assaulted her, made her undress in front of other students and gave her gifts of jewelry and a book of poetry.
"(The ATA) had someone that was very dangerous in a school system working with children for far too long," Schneider said.
Cody Bonkowsky -- another plaintiff in the lawsuit and also a former student of Gregory's -- said he also found out about the ATA disciplinary decision this week.
"Regardless of whether something told you that you had to do it, (the ATA) should have reported it," he said Wednesday.
"You could have ended the suffering and now it's just been prolonged and there are more victims."
Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the ATA's handling of the case 15 years ago is "unacceptable." There is currently no obligation for the ATA to report incidents to police or the ministry, but LaGrange recently introduced Bill 85 that would mandate reporting of such findings.
"I fully expect that in any instance involving criminal allegations, or potentially criminal behavior, that the ATA and school authorities would bring that information to the proper authorities as soon as possible," LaGrange said.
In a statement released Tuesday, the ATA said the allegations that have surfaced recently were not part of the case it heard in 2006.
"The purpose of the association’s professional conduct review process is to determine whether a member’s conduct meets the expectations of the profession for acceptable conduct as a teacher," the statement reads.
"If we were to initiate a complaint in another arena, it could lead to an apprehension of bias and potentially jeopardise the outcomes of our legislative processes."
In its statement, the ATA also said its records show the RCMP were aware of Gregory during its disciplinary hearings. A spokesperson Wednesday said the ATA investigator reviewed a report submitted to RCMP related to Gregory back in 2005, but the report is not part of the file and there are no further details about what it said.
The RCMP says its database does not have any investigative occurrences involving Gregory prior to the Calgary Police investigation this year.
Gregory was charged by police with 17 counts of sexual assault and exploitation in February. He died by suicide days after the charges were made public.