In Canadian school food news, a teacher at École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Marie , a French Catholic school in Ontario has been “relieved of her duties” after she allegedly forced an eight-year-old girl to eat food from a garbage can. As CHCH reports, the girl’s family is not only angry about the incident itself, but the way the school immediately handled it.
This whole ordeal started when the third-grader threw an old banana into a trash can. Apparently this didn’t sit well her teacher, Renee Oettershagen. The girl’s grandmother, Ann Marie Stewart, relayed to CHCH her granddaughter’s account of what happened next, “[Oettershagen] peeled the banana with her bare hands that had been in the garbage can, broke off a piece, ate it, then instructed my granddaughter to eat the rest of the banana.”
When Ann Marie, and the girl’s mother, Jordan Stewart, drove to the school to get answers as to why this happened, they were disappointed by the reception. Jordan told CHCH, “In walks the teacher, who said, ‘I was only trying to teach her good food values, not to waste food, and that you shouldn’t throw food into the garbage.’” Ann Marie, in what was not at all an overstatement, told the station, “It is the most bizarre, abhorrent thing I could ever think of doing to a child.”
In a meeting the next day with the school’s principal, the principal allegedly didn’t think it was too big a deal, which upset the Stewarts even more. They were concerned over the food safety. Jordan said, “It’s been placed in a garbage bag, that I am positive has odor-eating chemicals, it is treated, let alone all the other contaminants the could have been in there – disgusting, like, Kleenexes, umm, garbage is what people throw away. Glue, lead, paint.”
According to the Simcoe Reformer, the familyresponded by pulling their 8-year-old and her younger sister out of St. Marie. They also reached out to the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand (CAS), an organization that provides, “protection, prevention and counseling services to children and families.” The Stewarts learned of even more problems with Oettershagen. Apparently, the teacher had fished sandwiches out of the garbage and insisted the girl eat those in front of the class, “to teach the students that food should not be wasted.”
Man, this isn’t looking good for Oettershagen. But that’s it, right? Well…no. Apparently the teacher already had a disciplinary hearing pending before the Ontario College of Teachers because of allegations of “professional misconduct” and “incompetence.”
Global News reports that since this has come to light, Oettershagen has been, “relieved of her duties.” The Reformer received a statement from the French school board, Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud:
“The (school board) is of the opinion that the teacher’s actions reflect poor judgment on her part. Although the teacher has apologized, her behaviour is unacceptable and does not meet (the board’s) standards in terms of professional ethics as expected from all of its teaching staff. The (board) regrets this incident has taken place and sends its sincere apologies to (the girl) and her family.”
None of the outlets reporting this story seem to have heard from Ms. Oettershagen herself.