Canadian teachers under fire for Disney World prank on students
A group of teachers in southwestern Ontario is under criticism after fooling Grade 8 students into thinking they were heading to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., for their year-end class trip.
Teachers at Roseland Public School in Windsor prepared a PowerPoint presentation, complete with pictures and video, to lead the students to believe the trip was in the works.
A final slide revealed the students were really destined to head to a local bowling alley for their graduation celebration, apparently leaving them devastated.
One of the adults in the room videotaped the fake presentation and the student reaction. The video was then shown to other students.
Twins Max and Tira Copeland were among the students duped. Their mother, Bonnie Stewart, was one of the parents who made the incident public on Facebook.
“At first, I was really excited about it, but when we found out it was a joke and everything, I was kind of speechless,” Tira Copeland said. “I didn’t know how to react at first, but then I felt really kind of depressed about it and upset.”
“On Friday, I felt really bad about it and I felt humiliated and stuff, and how it was showed to the other students,” Max Copeland said.
“I went into my daughter’s room, and I told her I was so sorry – she just looked so sad,” said Bonnie Stewart. “They felt they were made fools of – it was humiliating,” she added.
Psychologist Noreen Chevalier said she was “shocked” when she heard about the prank.
“I consider this bullying. It’s too elaborate. This joke was preplanned. It’s not just a joke. This has gone beyond that because they see the teachers in an authoritarian way,” Chevalier said. “To be humiliated as a group is shameful for them. Shame attacks your heart and your being. This is more than embarrassment. Shame is deeper than that.”
“I have a lot of respect for teachers and what they do, but this was really stupid judgment,” said parent Peter To-polovec.
“We have received a number of calls from people, and not necessarily everyone who has a student at that school, and it’s been fairly consistent in its condemnation of the teachers’ actions,” a representative at the board said to press after an apology was issued.
A spokesman for the Greater Essex County School Board says teachers used “poor judgment” when they led students to believe they were going on a graduation trip to Disney World.
The prank evolved from one teacher’s suspicion that students were rifling through his desk. The teacher planted a false brochure advertising the Florida graduation trip, he said, adding that staff allowed rumors to swirl unchecked.
The presentation on the fake trip was staged several days later before the entire Grade 8 population, he added.