Classroom chairs (Pixabay photo)

Fernie teacher suspended for three days for inappropriate conduct

The teacher had been suspended for five weeks by the district for the same behaviour in 2018

A Fernie high school teacher has been suspended for three days for making inappropriate comments in and out of the classroom, according to a ruling handed down last week from B.C.’s Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.

Paul Joseph Chow, who is employed with School District 5 and is on staff at Fernie Secondary School, admitted to professional misconduct involving students during the 2017-2018 school year.

According to the ruling – which is a voluntary ‘dispute resolution agreement’ that is entered into as an alternative to an indictment and a public hearing – Chow used inappropriate references in math assignments including “ferris wheel sexy time, “sexy time” and “bay of sexy.”

Chow also admitted to sharing his mobile number and texting students outside of class.

“One student felt so uncomfortable about this that they pretended not to own a phone so that they would not receive late night text messages from Chow,” reads the ruling.

Under the agreement, Chow admitted that all of the findings of the report were true.

The misconduct reviewed was over a period during the 2017-2018 school year.

According to the ruling, after previous informal reprimands by the school management, Chow’s behaviour was reviewed by School District 5 on June 11, 2018, and he was issued a letter of discipline and suspended without pay for five weeks between June 25-29, 2018, and Sept. 5-29, 2018. The matter was then referred to the commissioner in June 2018.

At that time, he was instructed not to have any private or personal communications with students, nor to communicate with students through text, to only communicate with students through his SD5 email account, to limit all communication to work purposes and not to communicate with students in order to befriend them.

Under the ruling handed down last week, the commissioner considered the matter and issued Chow an additional three-day suspension from March 16 to March 18, saying that “Chow failed to create a positive learning environment.”

Chow was also ordered to complete a course called Reinforcing Respectful Professional Boundaries through the Justice Institute by April 30, 2021.

A spokesperson for SD5 could not provide comment on the matter due to privacy concerns, but confirmed to The Free Press that Paul Chow remains an employee of SD5.

READ MORE: Return to school plans released by School District 5
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