Island teacher suspended after telling students to hit each other with pool noodles: BCCTR 

Island teacher suspended after telling students to hit each other with pool noodles: BCCTR 
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

A Vancouver Island secondary school teacher will have his teaching certificate suspended for three days after he encouraged students to hit each other with pool noodles, according to the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation (BCCTR).

But it’s not his first certificate suspension.

Russell Bodnar, who’s employed by Port Alberni-based Pacific Rim School District (SD 70), had previously been suspended for telling students to “twerk,” states the latest discipline outcome notice, which was posted Tuesday to the BCCTR’s website.

It was on March 6, 2023, when SD 70 made a report to the BCCTR regarding the pool noodle incident. Tuesday’s notice says Bodnar was teaching a Grade 9 gym class when a student with glasses, ‘Student A,’ was repeatedly hit in the face with one of the noodles.

Their glasses got knocked off their face and broke.

The notice says Bodnar allowed students to play hockey using pool noodles instead of hockey sticks and encouraged them to hit each other, but not “too hard” and not in the head. The teacher was heard saying things like “Beat him! Get him! You can get him!”


Yet, despite Bodnar’s directions, the BCCTR says students were still hitting each other above the neck with pool noodles, including in a manner some called “aggressive.” This resulted in ‘Student A’s’ glasses breaking, states the notice.

“Bodnar was aware that Student A’s glasses had been broken, and even commented that Student A had been hit ‘pretty hard,’ but Bodnar did not follow up with Student A to ensure that Student A was not otherwise injured,” it says.

“Bodnar also did not complete an incident report or otherwise report this incident to the School administration,” the BCCTR adds, noting that he also failed to tell the student’s parents why their child’s glasses were broken.

On March 6, 2023, the same day the BCCTR was notified, SD 70 issued Bodnar a letter of discipline and suspended him for five days without pay from March 27-31, 2023.

According to a consent resolution agreement, the teacher admitted that the facts presented were true and that his actions were professional misconduct, contrary to the Professional Standards for BC Educators.

It says he agreed, under the Teachers Act, to a three-day suspension of his certificate of qualification from March 13-15, 2024.

Additionally, he must successfully complete a positive learning environment course.

Previous incidents

The notice says SD 70 had previously raised concerns with Bodnar.

In June 2019, the district issued him a non-disciplinary letter of expectation reminding him that when he is not in a coaching role, touching students without their consent is not acceptable.

Two other incidents resulted in discipline letters and suspension without pay, including in July 2021 when he made inappropriate statements to students and encouraged his Grade 8 P.E. class to “twerk.” The following December, Bodnar allegedly made a student feel uncomfortable during an athletic practice.

He was subsequently removed from coaching duties within the district.

The athletic practice incident resulted in a consent resolution agreement with the BCCTR in November 2022, when Bodnar agreed to a one-day suspension of his certificate of qualification.

He was first issued his certificate to teach back in June 1998.

The full outcome notice from Tuesday is here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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