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B.C. teacher disciplined for hijab Halloween costume comments

Surrey substitute teacher asked hijab-wearing student if they had been trick-or-treating.
A Surrey substitute teacher has been told to take sensitivity training after calling student's hijab a Halloween costume.

B.C.’s Commissioner for Teacher Regulation has reprimanded a Surrey, B.C., teacher who made comments to a Muslim student about her hijab being a Halloween costume.

The newly released Feb. 7 discipline notice said Donald Joseph Camozzi was an on-call teacher for a Grade 10 class of which the student in the hijab was part.

Commissioner Ana Mohammed’s decision said it was on Nov. 1, 2022 that Camozzi asked the student if they had gone trick-or-treating.

The student responded that they did not celebrate Halloween.

Camozzi responded by saying, “that’s a nice Halloween costume, mine is better than yours,” referencing his shirt and tie.

The student responded that it was not a Halloween costume.

Again, Camozzi said his costume was better, pointing toward the hijab in front of the student’s classmates.

“Student A told him to stop it as it was not funny,” the commissioner said.

When another student said they found it funny, Camozzi noted the other student found it funny.

“Word of this incident spread in the school and was being discussed by students in another class,” Mohammed said.

On Dec. 14, 2022, the district issued Camozzi a discipline letter and recommended he seek sensitivity training.

“To date, Camozzi has not completed this training,” Mohammed said.

The decision said Camozzi had been advise in December 2021 to be thoughtful in his comments.

Camozzi admitted the facts and admitted to professional misconduct, the decision said.

Mohammed said Camozzi failed to respect classroom diversity, had a negative impact on the student and others and failed to be a proper role model.