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John Shewan and Ilze Shewan v. The Board of
School Trustee of School District No. 34
Board of School Trustees of School District No.
(Abbotsford) and Shewan et al.
By: Amy Wright
 Case Brief
 Overview of Case
 Significance of Case to Education
 Group Discussions
Overview of Case
 Relevant Facts
 John Shewan and Ilze Shewan
 Husband and Wife
 School Teachers with School District #34 (Abbotsford)
 Suspension for six weeks
 Mr. Shewan took semi-nude photographs of wife
 Photo competition Blank entry
 Expectation of anonymity
 Participants receive $50 if photo is chosen
 Shewans motivation for entering contest – self image
Photograph Publication
 Letter to Mrs. Shewan
 Photograph published in magazine
 Photograph Caption:
Ilze, S. 34, teacher
Photography by her husband, John
Published Photograph
 Phone call to Superintendent – Radio Station
 Superintendent confirmed identity of Mrs.
 Meeting was arranged with the Shewans
 Superintendent informed board
Decision – School Board
 The School Board decided to suspend Mrs. Shewan
pursuant to s.122 of the School Act
 Section 122 (a) of the School Act:
A board may at any time suspend a teacher with or without
pay from the performance of his duties (a) for misconduct,
neglect of duty or refusal to neglect to obey a lawful order of the
Decision – School Board
 Board set date for statutory meeting
 Statutory Meeting –January 30th
Views of Mrs. Shewans
Decision to suspend Mr. Shewan
Statutory Meeting set for February 4th
Decision-School Board
 February 4th
 The Board suspended Mrs. Shewan for misconduct
pursuant of s.122 of the School Act. She was suspended
for 6 weeks
 February 5th
 Mr. Shewan was notified about his suspension, also for a
period of six weeks
Decision to Appeal
The Shewans
 The Shewans decided to appeal the decision ordering
their suspension
 An Appeal was placed with the Board of Reference
pursuant of s.129 of the School Act
 Board of Reference is an appeal system to ensure
fairness and justice when teachers are suspended or
dismissed by school boards.
John Shewan and Ilze Shewan v. The Board of
School Trustees of School District No. 34
Board of Reference
April 9 - June 18 , 1985
Main Issues
 (1) What test should be used in determining misconduct?
 (2) Did the behaviour of the Shewans constitute
 (3) If there was misconduct , what is the appropriate
Decision-Review Board
 The Review Board held in a 2-1 decision that
there was no misconduct by the Shewans
 The Shewans were suspended for 10 days
 Both teachers were reinstated with full pay
 Teachers should be compensated by the School
Board for lost wages and benefits
Supreme Court of British
 The School Board decided to bring the case to the
attention of the Supreme Court of British Columbia
Board of School Trustees of School District
no.34 (Abbotsford) v. Shewan et al.
January 30, 1986
Main Issues
 (1) What was the nature of the appeal granted to the
court by s. 129 of the School Act?
 (2) Did the Reference Board make an error when it
found that there was no misconduct?
 (3) If there was misconduct, what was the appropriate
Supreme Court of British
 The court held that the type of test used in
determining misconduct, the obscenity-based test of
standard general test was wrong
 The judge, Mr. Justice Bouck said that the proper
question was whether the conduct of the teachers
was within the moral standards recognized within the
community where the teachers were employed
Decision- Supreme court of
British Columbia
 The Supreme court of British Columbia concluded
that :
There was misconduct within the meaning of s.
122 of the School Act
 The penalty was set as 4 weeks suspension
British Columbia Court of
 The Shewans took the case to the British Columbia
Court of Appeal
Shewan et al. v. Board of School Trustees of
School District No. 34 (Abbotsford)
December 21, 1987
 (1) Whether Mr. Justice Bouck exceeded his powers as an appellate
judge in substituting his own views of what was misconduct for that
held by the Board of Reference?
 (2) What meaning should be given to the word “misconduct”
according to its use in s. 122(1) of the School Act, and what
standard ought to be applied in determining what behaviours
constitute misconduct?
 (3) Was the duration of the suspension determined by Mr. Justice
Bouck appropriate?
 (4) Should the cost of the Supreme Court proceedings be
apportioned because the school board succeeded on only one issue
(misconduct issue)
Appeal Court Findings
 The Court of Appeal did not reverse the findings of the
British Columbia Supreme Court
 The Supreme Court was entitled to make the order
which the Board of Reference should have made if it had
used the correct test
Appeal Court Findings
 The British Columbia Court of Appeal has held that:
“The reason why off the job conduct may amount to misconduct is
that a teacher holds a position of trust, confidence and responsibility.
If he or she acts in an improper way, on or off the job, there may be a
loss of public confidence in the teacher and in the public school
system, a loss of respect by students for the teacher involved, and
other teachers generally, and there may be controversy within the
school and within the community which disrupts the carrying of the
educational system.”
British Columbia Appeal Court
 The Appeal Court found that the behaviour of the
Shewans justified misconduct under s. 122(1)(a) of the
School Act
 The court also agreed with the suspension of 4 weeks set
by the Supreme Court of British Columbia
Significance of the Case to Education
This case has highlighted some important issues in education:
 1.The professional role of teachers and the high expectations placed
upon teacher to act as societal role models
 2. Whether there is a difference between on-the-job and off-the-job
conduct of teachers
 3.How are the personal rights and freedoms of teachers protected?
 4.What circumstances involving teacher behaviours constitute
What do you think about the case? (E.g. do you
agree/disagree with the findings of the courts?
 The case highlighted that the nature of the teaching
profession requires that teachers subscribe to higher
standards of behaviour than other citizens. Teachers are
supposed to be moral role models that pass on the
“ideal” values of the society. Teachers are constantly
under the watchful eyes of students, parents, the school
system and the community.
 Question : Do you think that teachers should
be held to this high level of scrutiny?
 The case was a fine example of behaviour of an
employee that brings the image and reputation of the
employer into dispute with local community standards.
There seems to be a lack of clear definition and
guidelines as to what is exactly is “teacher misconduct”.
 Question: What rules do you think that teachers
should set for themselves in governing their own
behaviours when outside of school?
Thank You!
 Thank You for your participation!
1. Shewan v. Abbotsford School District No. 34, [1987] B.C.J. No. 2495, 47 D.L.R. (4th) 106, 21
B.C.L.R. (2d) 93, 8 A.C.W.S. (3d) 164 Retrieved on May 14, 2010 from website:
2. Board of School Trustees of School District No. 34 (Abbotsford) and Shewan et al. [1986]
B.C.J. No. 3256 26 D.L.R. (4th) 54 Retrieved on May 14, 2010 from website:
3. Suracusa, G.S, The John and Ilze Shewan Case: Unconventional Teacher Behaviour: Private
Life in Public Conflict. Retrieved on May 14, 2010 from website:
4. Google Images. Website:
5. Legal Status of Teachers. Retrieved on May 14, 2010 from website:

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