3 Surrey teachers disciplined for Jar of Death incident

Teachers failed to intervene when students ordered to lick a teachers foot, eat chewed gum and drink spit

Three Surrey teachers have been disciplined for failing to stop a “Jar of Death” punishment at a camp last year.

Students were told to lick a teacher’s foot, eat chewed gum and drink from a spat-in glass, the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation wrote in a Consent Resolution Agreement released last month.

Teacher Jennifer Jo Robinson, who runs a physical education leadership program in a school in Surrey, was in charge of the three-day camp in September, 2015, documents show.

The incidents began on Sept. 24, 2015, when kids were instructed by older students to eat things from a jar, including baby food, dried squid, spicy tuna, minced garlic and other food items.

“While some students protested during the challenge, they were pressured by older students to continue to participate,” the commissioner wrote.

Then two nights later, the students began an event they called the Jar of Death.

“With the Jar of Death, students nominated their peers who had done something at camp which they did not like,” the commissioner found. “The nominees had to reach into a jar and pull out a piece of paper, with a task written on it, which they were then expected to perform in front of the group.”

The students felt pressured to participate.

The tasks included; licking a teacher’s bare foot, drinking a glass of water into which four people had spat; and chewing gum which someone else had chewed for 30 seconds.

“Robinson was present throughout the Jar of Death, but at no time did she attempt to put a stop to the activity,” the commissioner found. Two other teachers, Matthew Lucas Jones and Michael Turner Mitro were also present and failed to intercede, according to the disciplinary document.

“It was a male student who selected the task “lick Mr. Mitro’s bare foot” from the Jar of Death,” the commissioner wrote. “Mitro sat in from of the students and staff, and removed his shoe and sock so the student could then lick his foot.”

It was Jones who was chosen to chew a piece of gum for 30 seconds before another student chewed it, the documents show.

The teachers were issued letters of discipline last December.

Under the disciplinary finding, all teachers admitted their actions constitute misconduct,  and agreed not to make any statement refuting any of the facts stated within the documents.

All of the educators disciplined are required to complete a course called Reinforcing Respectful Professional Boundaries, and if they fail to do so, they will be subject to suspension.

The disciplinary finding is published on the Ministry of Education website: https://www.bcteacherregulation.ca/ProfessionalConduct/DisciplineOutcomes.aspx

 

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