B.C. teacher disciplined for lying about suspension – during 3 different job applications
An empty classroom is seen in this file photo. (The Canadian Press)
VANCOUVER -- A high school teacher from Metro Vancouver has been disciplined after he lied about a past suspension during three different job applications.
James Earl Bjarnason was "dishonest" while applying for separate jobs in Surrey, Maple Ridge and Delta back in 2017, according to a disciplinary decision posted this week by B.C.'s Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.
Each time, the teacher filled out a form that asked, "Have you ever been suspended, disqualified, censured, discharged or had disciplinary action instituted against you in an employment capacity?" or a similar version of the question.
Each time he answered "no," even though he had been subject to two investigations during a previous teaching gig in Langley in 2011. The first resulted in his suspension, and he resigned after the second.
The first investigation focused on Bjarnason's conduct when dealing with a student – identified only as "Student A" in the decision – who wasn't in his class but "periodically came into his classroom during instructional time."
"Bjarnason became frustrated with Student A, put Student A in a headlock, rubbed Student A's head with his knuckles and pushed Student A out of the classroom," the decision reads. "He also encouraged other students in the class to mock Student A, with the objective of embarrassing Student A."
The teacher was suspended for two months without pay.
The second investigation involved Bjarnason's treatment of a "vulnerable student with multiple disabilities and special needs," who the teacher "inappropriately reprimanded." No further details about the incident are disclosed in the disciplinary decision, but administrators recommended Bjarnason be suspended for six months without pay that time. He resigned instead.
The Delta school district hired Bjarnason before realizing he had lied on his application, and subsequently fired him in November 2018 after learning the truth.
The Commissioner for Teacher Regulation found Bjarnason was also dishonest when answering questions during two different investigations into his lying. All told, the commissioner determined his "dishonesty occurred over a two year period."
As a result, his teacher's certificate will be suspended for two months beginning in April 2020.