A former 20-year teacher from Vauxhall High School/Middle School has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct involving a sexual encounter with a former student.
In a written ruling released on Wednesday in Edmonton by a professional conduct committee of the Alberta Teacher’s Association noted former teacher Shane Mazutinec is guilty of unprofessional conduct for failing to treat a student with dignity and respect, and bringing dishonour to the teaching profession by engaging in a sexual relationship with a student on or about 1996. A plea of not guilty had been entered on behalf of Mazutinec to the hearing committee of professional conduct for the ATA.
According to the conduct committee ruling, Mazutinec had sex with a female student of junior-high age, in a closet in his classroom.
‘Mazutinec cultivated a relationship with a demonstrably vulnerable student. He groomed this relationship with the student with the ultimate goal of sexually exploiting her and comfortable in his belief that any disclosure of same by her would likely be discredited. He exploited the power differential within the teacher-student relationship for his own gratification’, wrote the conduct committee. Another reason for the ruling as noted was, ‘Mazutinec failed to treat the student with dignity and respect when he exploited her isolation and her need to develop a caring relationship with an adult.’
Information has not been released on whether Mazutinec directly taught the student involved, how long the relationship lasted, how old she was, or what grade she was in at the time of the relationship.
The report noted not only balancing the more credible testimony of Witness ‘A’ against Mazutinec’s submission, it also considered the testimony of a witness ‘B’ and ‘C’. While not related to the Witness ‘A’ narrative, it was received by committee as similar fact evidence of another incident to support the charge.
The sentence from the ATA professional conduct committee declared Mazutinec permanently ineligible for membership in the association, which prevents him from teaching in any Alberta provincially-run school. The committee also imposed a $10,000 fine and recommended Alberta’s education minister cancel Mazutinec’s teaching certificate. The penalties are the most severe the ATA can levy.
‘Teachers are in a position of power over students. There it is a teacher’s fiduciary obligation to protect students, not to exploit their vulnerability through the teacher-student relationship. Mazutinec’s actions constituted egregious behaviour which breached trust and necessitates the most significant penalty’, read the committee’s final reason for its ruling.
Earlier in the month, the professional conduct committee took the step of closing Mazutinec’s disciplinary hearing to public observers at the request of prosecuting officer Cory Schoffer to help protect the three children who are unaware of the incident of the primary witness.
Mazutinec had been a social studies teacher at Vauxhall High School from 1993 to spring 2014. Mazutinec now sells cars in Lethbridge.
According to an Edmonton Journal article, Horizon School Division superintendent Wilco Tymensen would not say when the school division received a complaint or whether Mazutinec resigned or was fired. An attempt to contact Vauxhall High School principal Todd Ojala for further clarity on the issue was unsuccessful late Friday morning by The Times with Ojala gone to an educational administrative conference for the weekend according to school staff.