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BC teacher suspended after making a joke about a student's father's serious car crash

A BC teacher has been suspended for two days after she admitted telling a harsh joke about a student’s father’s recent car crash.

Julie Marie Henriette Gagnon, who works at an unnamed District 93 (Francophone Education Authority) school, also admitted leaving a classroom unattended in the build-up to a physical fight.

Gagnon, the BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation said, had in another instance referred to a student as “psychopathic.”

The first complaint against Gagnon concerned a student whose father had suffered serious injuries in a major accident at the end of February 2019.

Gagnon is said to have made a joke in class on March 5 about the student’s father while discussing how convex mirrors work.

<who> Photo credit: 123RF

The Commissioner’s report explains: “She said to the class: ‘The only thing you can see upside down is something that is upside down like, for example, [the student’s father’s] car.’

The student’s friend then told Gagnon that the joke was inappropriate, prompting the teacher to make an apology.

“In the context of this conversation, Gagnon told [the student] that she would be able to laugh about the accident at some point,” the report explains.

In a separate complaint, Gagnon is said to have made repeated comments to another student about how he needed to work harder.

The student, however, “felt that Gagnon lacked an understanding of the challenges” that he faced.

Gagnon then told the student – in the presence of other students – that he had not performed well in a test, the report explains.

In another complaint made against Gagnon, she is said to have left a classroom unattended despite two students behaving aggressively towards one another.

They later had a physical fight, the report says, which was recorded on video.

The report notes that she had previously been told to ensure the classroom is never left unsupervised.

The Commissioner’s report notes that Gagnon had in the past been the subject of concern at the school district after she told a student their behaviour was “psychopathic.”

She was also “reminded that she had to be more careful in her choice of language” after making jokes in front of students.

On April 20, 2021, Gagnon admitted her conduct as set out in the report.

As a consequence, she was handed a two-day suspension.

The Commissioner's report concludes: “In determining that a two-day suspension of her certificate of qualification is an appropriate consequence, the Commissioner considered the following factors: a. Gagnon failed to exercise appropriate classroom management skills; b. Gagnon failed to appreciate the impact of her conduct, in particular the choice of her words, on her students; and c. Gagnon had previously been warned about her inappropriate communications with students.”

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