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Teacher's licence revoked for promoting antisemitism, 9/11 conspiracy theories

He pleaded no contest to the allegations that include verbally and psychologically or emotionally abusing a student or students
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A Timmins teacher's license has been revoked for promoting Holocaust denial and sharing 9/11 conspiracy theories in class.

The Ontario College of Teachers held a virtual disciplinary hearing on Nov. 15 for Joseph Biagio DiMarco, who was found guilty of professional misconduct.

DiMarco was not present at the hearing and did not have legal representation. Prior to the hearing, he agreed to the uncontested facts for the incidents that spanned two school years.

He pleaded no contest to the allegations that include verbally and psychologically or emotionally abusing a student or students. His teaching certificate was revoked and he'll receive a written reprimand.

DiMarco was a Northeastern Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) teacher at O'Gorman High School at the time of the incidents. There is a publication ban on any details that could identify the student.

DiMarco received his teaching certificate and registration in 2006. The incidents that were the focus of the hearing happened in the 2016/17 school year and 2018/19 school year. He was fired in May 2019 following an NCDSB investigation prompted by a parent complaint.

TimminsToday has reached out to NCDSB for comment.

In 2018/19, DiMarco encouraged students to question the accuracy of the Holocaust, especially "whether the figure of six million Jewish deaths was an exaggeration or fabrication," according to the uncontested facts in the board's decision.

He gave students "disreputable and unapproved" sources of learning materials, including videos of the Phil Donohue Show and Montel Williams Show that suggest the Holocaust is factually untrue.

"When students tried to challenge or question the member's assertions about the figure of six million deaths not being accurate, the member was dismissive, reminding the students how much research he had done and warning them not to believe everything they read. Students were disturbed by the information being provided to them and at least one student reported to her mother that the member was teaching them Holocaust denial," reads the report.

Leading up to a March 2019 school trip to visit Second World War sites, including a concentration camp, DiMarco "openly disparaged" the trip "as 'propaganda' by the 'powers that be.'"

He told students they were intentionally visiting the Holocaust memorial site "when they first arrived and would be fatigued from travelling, in order to prevent students from questioning the Holocaust narrative and to play on their sympathies."

DiMarco also spent a "significant amount of class time" sharing 9/11 conspiracy theories. 

"He explained that he had done extensive research on the subject and offered to provide his students with resources in support of what he was teaching them," reads the report.

Denying the Holocaust and 9/11 conspiracy theories are themes that also showed up in DiMarco's rock band. He played the band's music videos for students and posted links to the videos on a school club's Facebook page. 

The song names at the link, according to the report, are 911 IS A LIE and The Counter-Narrative.

The lyrics "contain numerous violent and graphic methods for murdering the members of the 9/11 Commission."

"The lyrics also scoff at the notion that six million Jews died in the Holocaust. In the music videos, the member is seen brandishing several semi-automatic weapons and drinking what appears to be alcohol," said the report.

In 2016/17, DiMarco told a male student that he "got on his nerves" and was a "joke" to him. DiMarco also told the student that simply looking at his face was starting to make him feel hate, which made the other students in the class laugh and embarrassed the male student, according to the agreed statement of facts. 

Antisemitism, extremism and hate-motivated crimes expert Bernie Farber was hired to provide an opinion about DiMarco's behaviour.

Faber found that DiMarco's "conspiratorial mindset and the content of his presentations were antisemitic, and risked arousing antisemitic beliefs in his students."

"The member breached the ethical standards of 'care', 'trust', and 'respect' by failing to teach acceptance, compassion, openness, fair-mindedness, freedom and democracy, which are central tenets of these ethical standards. His promotion of antisemitic, hateful, and conspiratorial views to impressionable students was completely at odds with these standards," reads the three-panel board's decision.

"The member's conduct showed a complete lack of professional judgment and a flagrant breach of the standards of the teaching profession. The classroom cannot be used (as) a platform for teachers to spread their personal prejudices and hateful viewpoints."

Read the full decision here.