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Zero-grade teacher may retire

Kevin Maimann, QMI Agency
Suspended Alberta teacher Lynden Dorval. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI Agency)

Suspended Alberta teacher Lynden Dorval. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI Agency)

EDMONTON - An Edmonton high school teacher suspended for giving zeros is contemplating retirement.

Lynden Dorval, awaiting the results of a termination hearing, said if he's fired he will have one day to decide whether to leave the profession.

"I've got to make a really quick decision about whether to retire," he said. "That's the option that would protect income. Thirty days after this termination comes through, my income stops.

"So it leaves retirement and trying to get some other kind of work. Teacher work is going to be very difficult to get because school has started, all the teachers have been hired."

The Edmonton Public School district suspended the Ross Sheppard physics teacher last spring after he gave a student a zero for not handing in an assignment, defying principal Ron Bradley's no-zero policy.

After a termination hearing Monday and an emotional school board meeting Tuesday, Edmonton Public superintendent Edgar Schmidt will make the call on whether to fire Dorval in the coming days.

Dorval expects to be terminated, but is holding out hope he can get back to the classroom.

"A number of people made some pretty strong accusations at the school board meeting ... and I hope that even if (Schmidt) had decided to terminate me, he might reconsider it," he said. "I like to be an optimist."

Meanwhile, the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) is continuing an investigation into Dorval's conduct.

Dorval, 61, said other teachers have approached him about filing a class-action lawsuit against the ATA and the public school board.

If terminated, he said he would "absolutely" consider that option. Dorval said he will also speak to a lawyer about a lawsuit against Bradley.

"There's been so many accusations, and I think I've been bullied and harassed over this thing," he said. "I think there's at least a decent chance there will be a lawsuit involved against the board or the principal, or both."

The school board appointed chair Sarah Hoffman and trustees Catherine Ripley and Dave Colburn to a policy review committee Tuesday to review student assessment, among other things.

The committee, which is formed every year, could put the no-zero debate to rest for the public school district but cannot set its directives until it holds its first meeting in the next few days.

"Policies recommended go for review by that committee. And one of the policies that's on the table is to do with assessment and student growth," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said the committee will meet with stakeholders and get public feedback on any proposed changes before making recommendations to the school board.