A Wellington Secondary School visual arts teacher has been suspended by the B.C. Ministry of Education Teacher Regulation Branch for what is being called inappropriate dealings with students.
Matthew Norman Lettington began a 30-day suspension Sept. 3 and according to information from the Consent Resolution Agreement from the teacher regulation branch, the incidents included giving personal information about himself to students; writing inappropriate comments in a Grade 11 student’s yearbook (which made the student uncomfortable); having inappropriate conversations with students on an online messenger service; and making inappropriate comments on the Facebook pages of students.
Facebook comments cited stated he enjoyed seeing a student massage her groin, in relation to a photograph of a drawing; referred to a student as “babe” and the comment, “ … photoclub was Lesbianism at it’s pinnacle [sic.].”
The Consent Resolution Agreement also listed an incident in July 2007, where Lettington went on a camping trip with five female students, prior to the start of their Grade 12 year. He did not obtain consent from parents nor did he inform the school administration, although he slept in his own tent.
“When one of the student’s mother and sister arrived unexpectedly at the campsite, Lettington was reading in his tent and that student was either inside the tent with him or sitting at the entrance of the tent. Lettington did not take steps to clarify the situation with the student’s mother or sister when he emerged from the tent. Lettington did not inform the school or district administration that he had been directed by the student’s parent to not have contact with the student,” read the Consent Resolution Agreement.
The regulation branch’s report also said he had students over for meals and movie nights and gone to restaurants with students.
According to a Nanaimo school district spokeswoman, Lettington is still employed by the district and will return to teaching once the suspension has been served.
He was also suspended by the school district for 20 days in March of 2009 for the same incidents, as the district conducted its own investigation.
“I think the main thing is, it does outline in the statement from the B.C. Regulation Branch the steps the district took,” said spokeswoman Donna Reimer. “We did investigate it, the teacher was disciplined and we reported it to what was then the College of Teachers and that’s all we really want to say.”
During April to October of 2009, Lettington completed a six-hour workshop entitled “Four Short Workshops on Professional Boundaries” provided by a registered clinical counsellor and the counsellor stated that Lettington told her he “would follow all procedures and guidelines and avoid making decisions without input from his administrator and other school personnel.”
The Nanaimo News Bulletin attempted to contact Lettington but he could not be reached for comment.