Embattled high school physics teacher Lynden Dorval speaks to the school board during an Edmonton Public School Board meeting in Edmonton on September 11, 2012.
Credits: CODIE MCLACHLAN/EDMONTON SUN QMI AGENCY
UPDATE: Termination hearings continue for 'Zero Hero' Lynden Dorval, a high school teacher in Edmonton who dared to give a student a zero grade for an incomplete assignment. Today is the second day of hearings for the teary-eyed teacher, and he's receiving support from his fellow educators.
Though Dorval went against Ross Sheppard high school policy by assigning students a zero grade, other teachers agree that they should have more sovereignty over assigning grades, as discretion in this area is an important part of allowing them to effectively do their jobs.
EDMONTON -- With tears welling up in his eyes, suspended teacher Lynden Dorval walked out of the first day of a termination hearing wearing a "Got Zero?" T-shirt.
Dorval is facing termination for insubordination and is suspended.
He claims the looming suspension is for going against Ross Sheppard high school policy by assigning students a zero grade, rather than using the code system the school uses to evaluate work.
Now, Edmonton Public Schools superintendent Edgar Schmidt will determine his fate.
"If you look at the legality of it, if the interpretation is correct, that principals are allowed to give those directives -- which I still don't accept -- then I'm guilty as charged," Dorval said.
Even if it wasn't the legal thing to do, it was the "right thing to do," he argued, before choking back tears.
A letter from principal Ron Bradley stated not only did Dorval refuse to obey "lawful directives," but he also refused to attend staff meetings where teachers researched to help shape the policy. Bradley wrote that Dorval also behaved unprofessionally.
Dorval said that at the Monday hearing, Schmidt asked him good questions and listened to his rebuttals to claims. Dorval said the principal's letter of recommendation for termination contains exaggerations and fabrications.
"It's tough," he said. "This is the first September in 35 years that I'm not planning and teaching. So it is tough."
Cindy Sanche, a parent, stood outside the Education Centre on Kingsway Avenue selling T-shirts that read "Got Zero? Real heroes give zeros."
She said the T-shirts have been sold as far off as Ontario and Australia.
"We just show that we're standing behind Lynden and his view on this policy, and that really kids aren't being held accountable if they're not being given zeros for not doing their work," she said.
Retired Ross Sheppard teacher Doug Senuik also disobeyed the rule and said it's sad Dorval may lose his job over it.
"It's ridiculous. It's absurd," he said. "It was legal. If he was in another school that allowed zeros, he would be fine. We wouldn't be having this. I wouldn't be feeling sad about Mr. Dorval."
In his 36 years of teaching, Senuik said the rules would be discussed in the spring before enactment. He said the principal is not following district or Alberta regulations.
Senuik said he got letters threatening disciplinary action for breaking the no-zero policy, but was not suspended or terminated. He said the rule goes against common sense.
"Why would you follow a theory that has no empirical evidence or proof?" he asked.
Edmonton Public School Board officials have stated there will be a written decision at the end of the hearings and if Dorval wishes to disclose them, he can.
The hearings could last another day or two, then a decision will be made. If he is terminated, he will have a 30-day window before his pay and benefits expire.
And, Dorval said, if he is terminated he will hire a lawyer for an appeal. An appeal would be set up like a trial with lawyers and a panel of multiple people. He said he also has a potential lawsuit against the principal or the school board.
"I have no regrets," he said.