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.