B.C. teacher suspended for 'inappropriate contact' with young students on Instagram
An empty classroom is seen in this file photo. (The Canadian Press)
VANCOUVER -- An elementary school teacher from Metro Vancouver has been suspended for six months after having "inappropriate contact" with young students on social media.
Erik Christian Oun was working for the Coquitlam school district when he began contacting two children over Instagram in summer 2019, and his messages showed a "lack of understanding of appropriate professional boundaries," according to a consent agreement published Tuesday by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.
Both of the children, identified in the documents as Student A and Student B, had just finished Grade 5.
In separate conversations, Oun called each of them "sweetie," "sweetheart" and some variation of "goof" or "goofball." He later called them both "Snobby McSnobbertson" when they did not respond quickly to his messages.
"DON'T BE SNOBBY ANSWER ME," he wrote to Student A on one occasion. On another, he asked the same child, "Hey are you still allowed to chat? You're not answering!"
At one point, he also told Student A that his family was away and asked what the child was doing, according to the consent agreement.
Oun's interactions with Student B included a message saying "I love how you pose for pics," and others calling the child "cute" and "adorable." After watching videos that student posted online, Oun wrote that he was "just watching your vids again! I love them!! You're fun to watch!"
He later asked if Student B had watched a show with a PG-14 rating. When the student said no, Oun replied, "You're just not cool like me."
According to the consent agreement, the teacher proactively disclosed his messaging with the children's parents. He told Student A's mom that her child "has to be safe and so do I. There have to be some boundaries."
"In this day and age we all have to be careful," Oun wrote.
But the messaging with Student A continued to the point that it became "persistent and unwelcome," according to the agreement, and the child's mother eventually asked him to stop. The teacher apologized and promised to stop texting "so much."
"I clearly have made a poor judgment," Oun told her.
In his interactions with both students, the commissioner found Oun had "failed to observe appropriate professional boundaries."
The teacher was first disciplined by the Coquitlam school district, which suspended him for 25 days without pay beginning on Feb. 18, 2020. Oun resigned from the district the following January.
The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation then reviewed his behaviour and decided to suspend his certificate for six months. Oun was also ordered to complete a course called Reinforcing Respectful Professional Boundaries through the Justice Institute.
By signing the consent agreement, Oun acknowledged the details of his misconduct are true and agreed not to contradict any of his admissions, either verbally or in writing.