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Quebec teacher fired after taking leave to be on ‘Survivor’ reality TV series

By Stephane Giroux

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    MONTREAL (CTV Network) — A school teacher who took part in the Quebec version of the Survivor reality TV show took time off work to be a contestant is now out of a job.

Survivor Québec isn’t that different from the original American series — 20 local participants fight to be the last survivor on a tropical island by trying not to get booted off by fellow teammates.

Déborah De Braekeleer is holding her own during season two but she happens to be a school teacher at an elementary school in St-Hyacinthe and she got fired for taking unauthorized time off — a shame, according to the teachers’ union.

“It sends the message … that if you work as a teacher, forget about it. For all whatever experience you may live during the school year,” said union president Patrick Theroux.

The union says De Braekeleer did find substitute teachers to cover her two-month leave but local school service centre the Centre de services scolaire de St-Hyacinthe never approved her plan so it fired the 39-year-old for insubordination.

In St-Hyacinthe, people are divided over the decision, with some saying her job should have come first but firing her was a bit harsh, especially considering the show’s visibility.

In fact, there’s another teacher on the show. Gwladys Breault works at Collège de Montréal, a private high school in Montreal. It not only kept her on staff, but is promoting her achievements among students.

“If I can say it, they use her as a model,” Theroux said.

But if one was turned into a model, the union leader says, De Braekeleer was made to be an example. School staff wouldn’t comment on the situation and asked CTV News to leave.

The school service centre now says that De Braekeleer is free to continue teaching but as a substitute teacher.

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