Langley teacher suspended, transferred after physically intimidating student
An empty classroom is seen in this file photo. (The Canadian Press)
VANCOUVER -- A gym teacher from Langley, B.C. was suspended for weeks and forced to transfer schools after physically intimidating a Grade 7 student at a basketball game, according to a disciplinary decision that was recently published online.
Donald Matthew Tupper was also charged with assault for the February 2016 incident, but the count was eventually stayed after he entered a peace bond promising to stay on good behaviour.
Details of what happened and Tupper's punishment were made public last week in a consent resolution agreement from B.C.'s Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.
At the time of the incident, Tupper was teaching physical education and social studies at a Langley high school, but had visited another school to watch basketball as a spectator.
During the game, a Grade 7 student started yelling "touchdown!" and other football terms as a joke. This happened about four times before Tupper decided to confront the boy, whom he had never met or taught before, in the hallway outside the gym.
Tupper, who was much larger than the student, was "visibly angry" during the confrontation, according to the agreement, and raised his voice while calling the boy rude and disrespectful. He also backed the student against a wall and placed his hand in front of the boy's chest.
"Tupper failed to control his anger and involved himself in a matter which was not his responsibility, and while doing so, physically intimidated a student," the document reads.
When another teacher appeared, Tupper told the boy, "I'm not going to hurt you." He then told the other teacher everything was "OK" and that the Grade 7 student had learned a "life lesson," according to the agreement.
He was charged with assault two months later, in April 2016, but the charge was stayed in August 2017. Tupper had to agree not to contact the student he intimidated or another student witness for six months.
He was suspended without pay for three weeks in 2019 following an investigation by the Langley school district, which also transferred him to a different school and barred him from teaching at his previous school or the school attended by the student he intimidated.
The agreement also outlines a number of other concerning interactions Tupper previously had with students, including one in December 2012 in which he "yelled at a special needs student in front of students and a staff member," telling the student to "stop being stupid" and "stop being a baby."
He was also suspended in February 2014 after leaving a class unattended, and making "inappropriate and sexist comments" toward female students, according to the document.
The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulations reviewed the circumstances of the February 2016 incident and decided to also suspend Tupper's licence for one day, which happened on Nov. 27. The agreement notes that the teacher has since completed an anger management course.
On Monday, the Langley School District confirmed Tupper is still an employee, but said it could not provide further details about how the incident was handled.
"The district follows its policies and procedures with respect to human resources," the district said in an email statement. "Due to privacy, the district is not able to share or publish any information regarding staff personnel matters. As always, student and staff health, safety, and protection of privacy is a top priority."