Teacher convicted of indecent acts can't be fired

A Nova Scotia school board cannot fire a teacher convicted of indecent acts but can only suspend him for a year without pay, the province's Supreme Court has ruled. Peter Speight pleaded guilty in 2007 to public indecency for, on three separate occasions, calling a woman over to his car and masturbating in front of her.

After the South Shore Regional School Board fired him, he filed an appeal under the Canadian Education Act and won a reduced penalty - a one-year suspension without pay. The appeal board believed Speight's claim that those three incidents were isolated, and accepted the opinion of a psychologist who said he presented "very little risk of reoffending."

Speight testified he had got into a "strange habit" over the past two years of driving around and stopping to masturbate "privately" when he spotted an attractive woman. The appeal board took into account that Speight's actions occurred away from the workplace - and from the schoolchildren.

But, it said, while discipline was warranted, firing Speight was an "unreasonable and disproportionate" response and ordered he be reinstated after a one-year unpaid suspension because his offence was "not of the sort of gravity or moral turpitude that negates the possibility of the rehabilitated, repentant and apologetic appellant being a positive role model." In a decision, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Gerald R. P. Moir agreed and rejected the school board's appeal.