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Campbell River teacher suspended after separating students to demonstrate segregation

A Campbell River teacher was suspended earlier this year after separating students during a classroom demonstration of segregation.

The suspension followed events on Feb. 15, 2022. A consent agreement reached last month with B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation says teacher Diana Marie Lontayao was teaching a Grade 2 gym class when an announcement was made over the school’s PA about Rosemary Brown, the first black woman elected to a Canadian legislature.

After the announcement, Lontayao asked her students if they understood what segregation meant. When students said they did not understand, Lontayao decided to start a “spontaneous exercise” to explain the meaning, according to the agreement

Lontayao asked a student to block off a small section of the gym with cones and addressed her class saying “all the brown kids, you go into that corner.”

The students then played tag in separate groups, and the minority students were delayed getting water until others had drunk. The report says following the exercise, one of the students in the minority group began to cry and left with the educational assistant.

Lontayao explained to students how unfair it was that they would not have been allowed to play together because of their race in the past, and the efforts of people like Rosemary Brown mean today they can play together.

Lontayao apologized to the student when they returned and ended the activity. She was served a letter of discipline from the school district and was suspended without pay from March 15 to April 22.

The district also made the teacher complete the Learning about Racism course and reassigned Lontayao from the school.

An agreement between the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation and Lontayao was reached, with Lontayao agreeing to the information in the report to be true and a one-day suspension served on Nov. 21.

The Commissioner added that “Lontayao failed to treat students with dignity and respect and did not show sufficient care for their mental and emotional wellbeing.”

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