(Updated) The Children’s Aid Society is investigating a teacher at a French Catholic elementary school.
It was launched after parents learned their daughter in grade three was being forced to eat food pulled out of a garbage can.
It started with a strange email exchange last week between Jordan Stewart and her daughter’s teacher, Renee Oettershagen, who was trying to find out who in the class had thrown away a banana. Then it got more strange.
“A big, ‘aha we caught her’. I told her we called her mommy, her friends caught her throwing it out, it’s her banana.”
Uneasy, Stewart sent her mother Ann Marie Stewart to the school and got the story from her daughter over the phone. “She then 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.”
“I said, ‘was it a bad banana?’ She said ‘yeah, there was black all over but don’t worry mommy, i used my instincts and ate around the black spots.’”
As soon as they heard, the Stewarts drove here to St Marie School in Simcoe to speak to officials, but say they weren’t taken seriously.
“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.’”
“It is the most bizarre, abhorrent thing I could ever think of doing to a child.”
The next day they met with the principal.
“It’s just a banana! I said, ‘is that your official position, it’s just a banana, not malicious? yes!’”
To the Stewarts, it’s not just a banana — it’s food safety.
“Odor-creating chemicals, disgusting kleenexes, glue, lead, paint, what else was in there?”
And it turned out to not just be a banana. Another incident involved a sandwich. After the Stewarts called the Children’s Aid Society, they learned more.
“This has been an ongoing issue with just my granddaughter, where she is isolated, humiliated, and fed food from the garbage can. I am shocked.”
The CAS said eating from garbage had become normal for the eight year old — something her family has had to counter.
“She’s hurt, upset, confused that her teacher made her do something wrong.”
“How dare one human being teach another human that that is all they’re worth.”
The teacher was a long-term substitute hired when the original teacher got sick, but she quit the Halton school board in 2012 after two failed reviews of her work and she currently faces a hearing — although she’s allowed to teach in the meantime.
The school board says it can’t comment while the CAS is investigating. They were in meetings all day at the school that will continue tomorrow.