3 Teachers temporarily suspended over ‘Jar of Death’ punishments


Three high school teachers who failed to intervene when students organized a “Jar of Death” punishment at a camp have been disciplined by the agency that regulates educators’ conduct in British Columbia.

Campers were pressured to lick a teacher’s foot, chew gum that had been chewed by another teacher and drink a glass of water into which four people had spat, the B.C. commissioner for teacher regulation says in a document recently posted on its website.

Jennifer Robinson, a teacher who is in charge of the PE leadership program at a school in Surrey, was among the supervisors at the annual three-day camp in September 2015, the document says.

Robinson, who was listed as the “educator-in-charge” at the camp, has been suspended for two days in October while two other teachers will serve their one-day suspensions in November.

The consent resolution agreement says students would nominate others who had done something at the camp that they did not like.

“The nominees had to reach into a jar and pull out a piece of paper with a task written on it which they would then be expected to perform in front of the group,” it says.

“At no time did she (Robinson) attempt to put a stop to the activity.”

Robinson also did not intervene during a so-called food challenge organized by two Grade 12 students, says the document, which was signed by commissioner Bruce Preston on Aug. 23.

Students were required to eat food drawn randomly from a jar, including minced garlic, baby food and dried squid.

“While some students protested during the challenge, they were pressured by older students to continue to participate,” the document says, adding Robinson was present but did not intervene, saying only that the food had to be edible and could not include peanuts.

Michael Mitro, another teacher at the school, was selected by a male student to be the teacher whose foot would be licked as part of the “Jar of Death” challenge.

“Mitro sat in front of students and staff, and removed his shoe and sock so that the student could then lick his foot,” says the consent resolution agreement in his case, signed by the commissioner on Aug. 11.

A third teacher, Matthew Jones, was chosen by students as the person whose gum would have to chewed by another student who was being punished.

“Jones took a piece of gum, chewed it, and gave it to the student to complete the challenge,” says the document, also signed by the commissioner on Aug. 11.

All the teachers were issued letters of discipline last December.

Under the agreement with the commissioner, the three teachers admitted that their actions constitute professional misconduct. They also agreed not to make any statement orally or in writing to contradict, dispute or call into question the admissions they have made.

The three teachers were required to complete a course on respectful professional boundaries through the Justice Institute of B.C.

And they acknowledged that the agreement would be published, in accordance with the Teachers Act, on the commissioner’s website.

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