Hope Secondary. (GoogleMaps)

B.C. teacher suspended for incessantly messaging student, writing friendship letter

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

A teacher in the Fraser-Cascade School District has been handed a two-month suspension and ordered to take workplace training after inappropriately pursuing a student in person and on social media.

Chelsea Dawn Cromarty, a social studies teacher at Hope Secondary School, did not dispute the facts outlined in the decision by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, including that she contacted the student on social media, in person, wrote a letter, and messaged while drunk.

The incident began with the Grade 12 student in the second semester of 2017-2018 while in Cromarty’s class.

The student graduated in June of 2018, a month before which Cromarty connected with the student — whose gender is not identified in the decision — using Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

“These messages were not school-related and became increasingly personal and she disclosed to the student personal information about herself,” according to the decision signed by Commissioner Howard Kushner on Oct. 29, 2019.

On a later occasion, Cromarty invited the student to talk in a separate room during class time. They talked about personal matters, including about her marriage.

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On June 19, Cromarty invited the student to “hang” out with her, something the student accepted then later declined. That same day, she picked the student up at his/her home and they went for a drive. Cromarty exchanged messages with the student that evening even though she knew the student had an exam the next morning.

That next morning, June 20, Cromarty sent a message to the student about the exam: “Get your ass in gear. You need to be here before 9.”

The student felt uncomfortable about the teacher’s attention, and stopped responding, according to the Commissioner’s report.

Cromarty, however, did not back down and continued to contact the student. In early July, she sent a three-page letter about her desire to be friends.

On Aug. 4, Cromarty messaged the student again stating she wanted to be friends and that she was “incredibly drunk” and “sad about the way things ended.”

There were more contacts via social media, culminating in Cromarty sending a personal message in November 2018 in which she wrote “I just wanted to check if things had changed” and “I get the sense that there is no way for me to rectify my past actions.”

On Dec. 6, 2018 the District disciplined Cromarty by reprimanding her and requiring her to complete a “boundaries” workshop offered by the BC Teachers’ Federation.

On Aug. 16, 2019, the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation considered the matter and proposed a consent resolution agreement.

Cromarty admitted all the facts laid out in the case, and admits the conduct pursuing the student constitutes professional misconduct, contrary to B.C. educational standards.

In addition to the two-month suspension, she was ordered to complete a course entitled “Reinforcing Respectful Professional Boundaries” by March 31, 2020.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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