Rants, Suburban, Teacher

An Open Letter to Peter Speight, former South Shore Regional teacher and admitted sex offender

Dear Peter,

I have been reading in the paper that you are trying to get reinstated as an elementary school teacher. As a woman, a fellow teacher, and the mother of two school-age children, I have a favor to ask of you.

Please. Stop. Now.

From what I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, you were fired from your teaching job in New Germany in 2008, when you admitted to committing indecent acts. In an article in the Chronicle-Herald, you said you had gotten into a “strange habit” of masturbating in your car and then calling women over to watch. (http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/207214-ns-court-rules-teacher-guilty-of-sex-charge-must-be-rehired)

You said you never targeted children, which I’m sure was a relief to the parents of the children in your class. I also read that you were given a conditional discharge in 2009, which must have been a big relief to you. The South Shore Regional School Board fired you but you appealed that decision. An arbitrator was called in and said that you should only get a one year suspension without pay. The school board challenged that decision in court but, once again, the stars and the law were on your side and a Supreme Court judge ruled that no errors had been made in the original judgment. If I understand correctly, you are looking to get not only your job back but the money that you lost during your time off without pay? About $150,000, I read?

Now, I agree with Pierre Trudeau’s philosophy that the nation has no place in the bedrooms of Canadians. But, seriously dude, you left your bedroom, went out in your car and got busy in public. That’s not cool. And then purposely calling women over so they could see what you were “up” to? That’s less than cool, that’s against the law. And it’s nasty.

As a fellow elementary school teacher, I want you to think about what you’re asking here. Do you seriously expect parents to trust you with their children? It’s hard enough for teachers these days to earn the respect of parents without asking them to trust an admitted sex offender. I guarantee you, if you win this fight, it won’t end in the courts. When the class lists go up in September, your fight will start all over again.

As a woman, you should know that your story creeps me out. Not because you enjoyed sitting in your car, alone, pleasuring yourself. That’s icky but when you called unsuspecting women over to watch? That’s when you crossed the line into scary territory. I enjoy walking or jogging by myself during the day and I’ve always felt safe doing so. If I had been one of the women you had called over to your car to shock (?) surprise(?) scare(?) that sense of safety would be forever ruined for me. And I guess that’s my biggest issue here: we don’t know why you did it. What did you get out this? Was it a power issue? And how do we know the next time the urge hits you won’t grab the woman who comes over to your car? Just because no one was physically hurt, it seems that a legal slap on the wrist was enough. But trust me, those women who trusted you and came over to your car, no doubt thinking you needed help, are now less trusting and less secure when they are out alone. You did that.

Finally, as a mother, I know I couldn’t in good conscience send my child to your class every day and just cross my fingers that you were rehabilitated and that no other “stange habits” would pop up during the school year. I don’t know if you have children but there’s nothing more important to a parent than your child’s well being.

I am guessing that you became a teacher for the same reasons the rest of us do – you love kids and teaching and learning. And I get why you want your job back. No doubt you worked hard to get it and, by all accounts, you were good at it.

But, if you truly care about children and the teaching profession and your community, please abandon this quest to get your job back. You may have the law on your side, but it’s not right. Teach adults who can make an educated decision about whether they feel they can trust you.

Let it go, Peter. It’s time to move on.

14 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Peter Speight, former South Shore Regional teacher and admitted sex offender”

  1. I agree. As much as I want to be forgiving and stuff, there are just some things that are unforgivable, irreconcilable, and inexcusable. What he did is one of them. And what’s unfortunate is that I think the fact that he’s trying to get his job back shows, if you ask me, that he hasn’t really been rehabilitated nor does he really care about those kids. If both factors were true, he would’ve come to the conclusions in your blog and would’ve found another profession.

  2. Oh dear, are his rights more important than the children’s rights to a comfortable classroom and freedom from fear. I’m sorry but I put up with enough of that as a child because back then things like that were not discussed and it was a secret of the family. Well it isn’t right and yes, small children do know what is going on and yes, they do fear what horror could this possibly be because it is spoken of only in whispers. No he should never be reinstated into the school system any school system. He has already proven his inability to control himself. Just my opinion mind you. Liz Hubley; taxpayer

  3. the judge ruling that this man should be around children should lose his job, and NO he should not have his job back. nor should he ever be aloud to work with children again, there will be alot of home schooling going on if he get his job back …

  4. As a New Germany resident I am devastated. I wish he would just stop trying to get his job back. New Germany Elementary School is a great place and shouldn’t have to be associated with this man. I’m worried that if he is able to return to school, it will not only make parents feel uncomfortable, I fear that enrollment in the school will go down, and as this happens who’s to say that they won’t close down the school? We are a small area and not only should he be thinking of the school, but the community as a whole. He just needs to stop…

  5. I don’t think there was much doubt that he would not get his teaching job back. However I don’t blame him at all for trying to get it back. He very likely knew the outcome of trying would be an out of court cash settlement. And considering that his chosen career has been destroyed, he’s going to need the cash in order to retrain himself to do something else.

    Even without a criminal record (he was given a conditional discharge so he has no criminal record), he will have a very difficult time finding another job in any profession because the internet will allow this issue to follow him for life.

    I’m sure there are some people that would say “great, it should”, however if we as a society make it impossible for former offenders to find employment again, then the costs to society will be even greater. Those former offenders will either be on welfare for the rest of their lives, or they will have to commit additional crimes in order to survive, thereby creating more victims and costs to society. And that seems to be the direction our various levels of government is going in right now.

    I’m not condoning “at all” what this fellow did. But people seem to be under the mistaken belief that this is the end of the situation, they seem to be lulled into this false sense of security. For example I see Alicia write about not wanting to see this person around her child. FYI Alicia, you and your child have likely been in close proximity to someone convicted of a criminal offence or sexual offence already. People hold doors open for people at the shopping mall all the time for example, there are strangers in front of and behind you at the grocery store checkout, I can think of countless situations where you will be around one.

    To the author of this blog I ask this, what should he do? What would you do if you were in the exact same situation?

    1. I totally agree that people who commit crimes need to be rehabilitated back into society. We are all human and we all make mistakes. And some of us make bigger mistakes that result in other people getting hurt. I don’t understand why he would fight to get back into his former school in his former community. He had to know it would result in public outcry. Perhaps it was the only path he was allowed to take, legally. By all accounts, he was a good teacher. Hopefully he can find other work that will allow him to use those talents. What would I have done? I would have moved, for starters. And gotten a fresh start somewhere else.
      I think people would have been more forgiving if he wasn’t asking them to trust him with their children. If you have to chose between empathy for a stranger and protecting your child, your child is going to win every time.

  6. But the thing is, we are utterly failing as a society to help rehabilitate people.

    The federal government in Canada for example, completely changed the pardon system, whose “only” effect on former offenders was to make it harder for them to get jobs. Prior to the changes, the pardon system had a 97% success rate, meaning that 97% of all offenders that received a pardon since 1972 did not re-offend. A pardon does not “erase” or “forgive” a person’s criminal record, all it did was make it easier for a person to get a job because the record would be sealed unless the person applied for a job that their original criminal offence was related to. A person with a job is much less likely to commit additional offences, there is lots of empirical research to back that up.

    The pardon system was changed by the feds after Graham James was accused of committing additional crimes after he received a pardon. Harper being a hockey fan, was personally outraged that James received a pardon in the first place. And to be frank, it is “great politics” for any politician to be seen as being tough on sex offenders. So instead of letting the system run its course, which would have revoked James’s pardon, Harper changed the entire system. And the irony is, that James has never been accused of committing additional crimes in the time since he was given a pardon. The additional crimes he was convicted of happened “prior” to him being given a pardon in the first place.

    You say you do not understand why he would fight to get his job back. As I said, he likely knew the only outcome of this would be a cash settlement, so why not do it? A judge after all said he was a fine teacher before this incident and that he should get his job back. As a society we typically accept the rulings of judges because they have access to better information, and tend not to “sensationalize” issues like the media does. You say you would have moved for starters. However, in that guy’s situation, he was very likely broke financially. This event dates back to 2007. To move, you need money usually, and he very likely didn’t have any. It’s a simple thing to say you would move, but in reality it requires a bit more than that.

    You say that people would have been more forgiving if he wasn’t asking them to trust him with their children. I disagree. If it wasn’t this issue, it’d be the fact that he lived in a community full of kids, or that his apartment was located across the street from a school or playground. The news is “full” of similar stories.

    I don’t think it has to be a choice between this or that. We can still protect our children by putting in place laws and policies that both protect our children and encourage former offenders to reform. Because if we focus solely on protecting our kids by focusing solely on punishing offenders even after they’ve completed their sentences, then we are not protecting them at all.

    1. You make a lot of great points, Kevin. As a society, we really need to think about how we treat people once they have completed their sentences.
      Don’t even get me started on Graham James. No sympathy there. He was a predator, pure and simple.

  7. I agree he was a predator, but to use two peoples criminal histories as an “excuse” to completely change a system that was working just fine for millions of people, is a perfect example of a “solution” that was searching for a “problem”.

    James has been punished and will be punished again most likely. But the government’s approach to the situation was counter-productive in my opinion. All it will do is create more criminals and victims.

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