Guest, Paul Fromm
Teacher’s College Seeks to Lift Licence of Dissident Teacher
Three gruelling days of hearings are over and the farce has been adjourned until early July. It takes two hours of preparation for an hour of cross-examination. In 1997, after six years of lobbying the Canadian Jewish Congress and the League for Human Rights (well, not free speech rights) succeeded in pressuring the Peel Board of Education to fire me from my position as an English instructor, after a 24 year career, where I’d been hailed by former Director Robert Lee as an “exemplary teacher.” I had never used the classroom to preach politics. My sin was that I had expressed criticism of Canada’s lunatic immigration policies and had stood up for free speech on my own time, outside of school hours. For having been a heretic and not shown the proper respect for multiculturalism and ethnocultural equity, I was fired.
Now, seven years later, the forces of repression want to take my teaching certificate and I am again on trial for my political views.
Tuesday began with my motion to adjourn for a month. As this is a political trial, I may wish to move that one or more of the three-man Tribunal recuse themselves for political bias. Current law requires a person to raise this issue at the earliest moment. How can I investigate the panel unless I know who they are. I asked repeatedly but was denied this information until Tuesday morning. My motion for adjournment was turned down.
The Ontario College of Teachers is represented, in one way or another by four lawyers. I always enjoy even odds. There’s just me to oppose the strike force from McCarthy Tetrault, the pricy downtown Toronto firm that represents the Teachers’ College – the body that licences Ontario teachers.
Today, I got to start my cross examination of a former Department Head of mine. Her testimony was so whiney, it was laughable. She complained that my very presence made her and her leftist allies afraid and stressed. She admitted that I hadn’t preached at them or discussed my views. It seems that my very existence was an afront to them. So much for tolerance.
They feared for their lives and families, oh not from innocuous me, but from my “associates.” When asked whether my associates — members of the Heritage Front — had ever threatened her, she had to admit they hadn’t. She loves to deal in generalities and flees from specifics. She had heard — she couldn’t be sure where or when or how — that I was “linked” — they love that word — to the Ku Klux Klan. Well, had she ever seen me in a bedsheet? (I probably should have phrased that more delicately.) Well, no. Did she ever ask me about it? Well, no.
I’ll continue this report in a few days.
p.s. A big thanks to John and Lynda for sitting through these three days and watching my back. Even bigger thanks to my backstage lawyer who has given me the advice and the legal research to be able to mix it up with the lawyers from McCarthy-Tetrault. Thanks to all those who’ve e-mailed me with their support. Tuesday night there was a lengthy item on the CTV news and this article appeared in the Toronto Star on Wednesday. This morning, I appeared on the John Oakley radio open-line show in Toronto. All three callers, including a former student, backed my right to free speech.
On trial for views, fired teacher says
2005-01-26 07:53:20 [Education]
A Peel teacher fired in 1997 for allegedly fraternizing with white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups in his free time has pleaded not guilty to discreditable conduct. Paul Fromm, 56, who is representing himself at a disciplinary hearing before the Ontario College of Teachers, yesterday described the proceedings as “a trial of my political views.” Leslie Ferenc reports.
On trial for views, fired teacher says
Fired for alleged links to white supremacists
Now faces charges from profession‘s governing body
A Peel teacher fired in 1997 for allegedly fraternizing with white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups in his free time has pleaded not guilty to discreditable conduct.
Paul Fromm, 56, who is representing himself at a disciplinary hearing before the Ontario College of Teachers, yesterday described the proceedings as “a trial of my political views,” saying teachers have the right to express their opinions on their own time.
“You will have to make a decision about teachers and their outside political activity and if it should be censored,” he told the tribunal hearing his case.
Fromm faces several misconduct charges, including failure to maintain professional standards, not complying with college regulations and bylaws, disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional and/or unbecoming conduct, and practising while in a conflict of interest. If found guilty, he faces anywhere from a reprimand to losing his licence to teach in Ontario.
In his opening remarks, Fromm noted that of the 57 cases of alleged professional misconduct on the college’s list of discipline cases, his is the only one involving a teacher’s political or religious views. Some 90 per cent relate to inappropriate sexual acts with students, while the rest deal with such issues as theft, inability to manage a classroom and forgery of credentials.
“I’m embarrassed to be in such bad company,” he said.
Despite years of highly publicized political activities outside of work, Fromm said he kept his views to himself in class and there were no complaints about him professionally.
His request for a one-month adjournment was denied. He wanted the delay so he could do background checks on the panel members to determine their political opinions and if they would be biased against him.
Fromm said he wants to hold on to his teaching licence “as an option,” calling it “a matter of principle and honour.”
His off-duty political activities, including co-founding Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform Inc. — which, according to the notice of hearing, attacked the “principles of multiculturalism and tolerance” — did have an impact on his students, colleagues and the community, argued college lawyer Caroline Zayid. According to the seven-page notice of hearing, Fromm attended numerous political meetings over the years, including a 1990 Martyr’s Day rally. During a speech, he hailed John Ross Taylor, who promoted hatred with anti-Semitic messages taped on his phone machine, as a hero. Taylor died in 1994.
Fromm’s remarks were recorded on videotape and played yesterday. Among other things, it showed some participants giving Nazi salutes and a swastika banner in the hall.
In 1991, Fromm was at a Heritage Front meeting to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday. In 1994, he attended a rally of the white supremacist group the National Alliance, where he sat on stage with former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke.
“Can a person engaged in such off-duty activity be a teacher in the first place?” Zayid said.
She acknowledged that Fromm has the right to freedom of speech, “but it doesn’t mean he can also be a teacher.”
Retired Peel District School Board superintendent Sandra Birthelmer testified that Fromm was reprimanded in 1991 for blurting out the words “scalp them” during a Toronto race-relations committee meeting, while a speaker talked about the need to curb racist groups.
Despite a warning, he continued his activities, she added.
The hearing continues today.
Political Correctness is not like a religion, it IS a religion.
ZERO tolerance. Scorched-earth policy — no competing religious doctrine or thought allowed or unpunished.