Almost a year after he was placed on leave in connection with complaints made to the school district and the police by concerned parents, a former elementary school principal was called in provincial court Tuesday to answer to criminal charges.
Former Admiral's Academy principal Robert Robin McGrath, 49, was not in the courtroom but was represented by his lawyers when his case was called in St. John's.
McGrath has been charged with four counts of assault and one count of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm against five students in Conception Bay South between Sept. 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 12.
The students' names are banned from publication, since they are all children.
The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District confirmed for The Telegram a year ago that a staff member at Admiral's Academy had been suspended as a result of complaints received in the preceding week. The complaints alleged inappropriate verbal and physical interactions with students of a non-sexual nature, the district said at the time.
In an email sent by the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association (NLTA) to its members earlier this month, the union said McGrath had been suspended without pay in connection with alleged criminal conduct in a school setting.
The suspension is a "clear violation of the NLTA collective agreement," which says a teacher cannot be disciplined without just cause, the email stated.
The NLTA has also urged its members to contact the school district with their concerns about a lack of resources in schools regarding the safety of staff working with students who might be prone to violence.