Canada
Edmonton 'no-zero' teacher fired

Ross Sheppard teacher Lynden Dorval spoke at a hearing at the Edmonton Public Schools Centre for Education on Monday Sept. 10, 2012 in his defence.

Credits: CATHERINE GRIWKOWSKY/QMI AGENCY

ANGELIQUE RODRIGUES | QMI AGENCY

EDMONTON - An Edmonton high school teacher suspended for giving zeros was officially given the axe Friday in a letter from the Edmonton Public School Board.

Lynden Dorval was awaiting the results of a termination hearing and says he was holding out hope the board would reconsider.

Though he wasn't shocked to receive the letter, he's certainly not happy about it.

"I've been preparing, or trying to prepare, myself for it for quite sometime," he said. "But it's still distressing now that it's here."

The Ross Sheppard physics teacher -- suspended last spring after he gave a student a zero for not handing in an assignment -- now plans to seek legal council and file an appeal.

"I definitely will appeal the termination, even if I have to do it on my own," said the Dorval, who still stands behind his opinion that a "no-zero" policy is detrimental to kids development.

"I expect to get legal help, and I will pursue it, no matter what."

For now, he's most concerned with a more pressing issue -- retirement.

In his termination letter, Dorval was given a one month notice, which means his contract will officially be terminated on October 15.

"My income will end in 30 days, so I've got to make a real hard decision," he explained.

He could find other work -- as a substitute teacher or in some other educational role.

But he's not yet sure where his heart lies.

"I'll talk to friends and family about it, and consider all of my options," he said. "Subbing doesn't pay anywhere near full income, so the decision could be made for me."

Despite the months of uncertainty and scrutiny over his controversial teaching decisions, Dorval says he doesn't regret his actions.

"I keep saying I will never regret it," he said. "If students don't do the work, they don't deserve the mark and I stand by that."

But he's grateful for the constant outpouring of support he's received since his suspension first made headlines.

From students who've stopped him on the street to thank him, to parents who showed up at Monday's private hearing with Ross Sheppard High School Principal Ron Bradley and Edmonton Public Schools Superintendent Edgar Schmidt sporting "Real heroes give Zeroes" T-shirts, he's had a wealth of supporters behind him.

"It's makes me feel great," he said. "It's not every day you do something that can inspire others."

It was Schmidt who made the final call to fire Dorval for defying the school's policy and handing out zeroes to students who failed to complete assignments.

The Alberta Teachers' Association is conducting an investigation into Dorval's conduct.

A policy review committee that will look into student assessment practices has been launched by the Edmonton Public School Board.

 

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