KingstonAreaTeacher Stripped of License for Possessing Child Pornography

Mitchell James Skinner, a high school teacher from Ontario, was found guilty of professional misconduct for owning and viewing child pornography. The Ontario College of Teachers revoked his teaching license, citing his actions as "disgraceful, dishonorable, or unprofessional".

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Bijay Laxmi
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KingstonAreaTeacher Stripped of License for Possessing Child Pornography

KingstonAreaTeacher Stripped of License for Possessing Child Pornography

Mitchell James Skinner, a high school teacher from Kingston, Ontario, has been found guilty of professional misconduct and stripped of his teaching license by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) for owning and viewing child pornography. The OCT's discipline panel denounced Skinner's actions in the strongest terms, revoking his teaching certification in the province.

Why this matters: This case highlights the importance of holding educators accountable for their actions, as they are entrusted with the care and well-being of students. The consequences of such misconduct can have a lasting impact on the lives of students and undermine the trust in the education system.

Skinner, who had been employed by the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) as a high school teacher since 2015, came underinvestigationon December 7, 2017, when police executed a search warrant at his Kingston residence. Several devices were seized, including Skinner's cellphone and a secure digital (SD) card, which were found to contain child pornography. He was subsequently arrested and charged with multiple child pornography-related offenses.

In the wake of his arrest, Skinner entered into an undertaking with the OCT on October 8, 2018, agreeing not to seek or engage in any employment requiring an OCT Certificate of Qualification and Registration. Despite being acquitted of the criminal charges on May 17, 2021, after the seized child pornography was excluded from evidence due to Charter violations, Skinner still faced disciplinary action from the OCT.

The OCT's discipline panel, consisting of Lisa Tucker, Yasser Leheta, and Emile Ramlochan, convened electronically on March 7, 2024, to review Skinner's case. In their decision issued on March 13, 2024, the panel found Skinner guilty of committing acts that would reasonably be regarded by OCT members as "disgraceful, dishonorable, or unprofessional" contrary to Ontario Regulation 437, subsection 1.18. "The panel found that Skinner committed acts that would reasonably be regarded by members as 'disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional' contrary to Ontario Regulation 437, subsection 1.18," the decision stated.

The panel emphasized the severity of Skinner's misconduct, stating that possessing child pornography perpetuates the exploitation of abused children and represents a flagrant disregard for his duty to ensure their safety. As a result, the panel accepted the joint submission on penalty, directing that Skinner receive a written reprimand to be recorded on the OCT Register and ordering the immediate revocation of his teaching certificate by the OCT registrar.

The OCT's decision to strip Mitchell James Skinner of his teaching license sends a clear message that such egregious misconduct will not be tolerated within the teaching profession. "The panel found that Skinner committed acts that would reasonably be regarded by members as 'disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional' contrary to Ontario Regulation 437, subsection 1.18," the discipline committee stated, underscoring the severity of his actions and the necessity of upholding the highest standards of conduct for educators entrusted with the well-being of students.