A Nanaimo high school teacher has been reprimanded for professional misconduct following a consent resolution by the British Columbia Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.
According to the agreement, Bruce Preston, the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, started an investigation into Matthew Lettington’s conduct in September 2015.
The agreement listed a series of events during the 2014/2015 school year while Lettington was teaching in School District 68 (Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools).
A consent resolution agreement said in October or November 2014, a student in Lettington’s Grade 12 photography class asked him why the paintbrushes were dirty. Lettington responded and used a derogatory and demeaning term about the abilities of other students.
Then in November 2014, a female student in his Grade 12 photography class told Lettington she might not be in class on a certain day. Lettington asked her why and if it was a boyfriend. When the student said that it was because of a cousin, Lettington asked if it was a “kissing cousin.” The agreement said Lettington did not explain what the term means when the student looked confused. The student reported that this made her feel “weird and awkward.”
While explaining a “selfie project” to his photography class, Lettington showed sample images from social media and made a point of saying that girls like to get their bust in the picture then began laughing nervously. At least one student reported feeling uncomfortable.
Lettington also posted one photograph of a student on his Facebook page where her face was not obscured, although she was wearing sunglasses. He posted another photo of a student without her face being obscured on his Instagram. He did not have parental consent to publish these photographs, which is required by the district in cases where a student is identifiable.
And during a Grade 12 Film Studies class, Lettington took a photo of a student without their consent. He then manipulated the photograph and sent the altered image to one of the student’s classmates in a private Instagram message. During an exchange with the classmate, he wrote “Is he mad?” and “Oh god. You’re pissed.”
The agreement said Lettington admits the events are true and that the conduct described constitutes professional misconduct. He has agreed to a reprimand and will have to complete a course on creating a positive learning environment by April 1, 2018. The course will be completed through the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
Lettington has faced disciplinary action in the past. According to the agreement, in March 2009, Lettington was suspended for 20 days due to inappropriate interactions and communications with students. The school district required him to complete a course on relationship and boundaries issues.
Then in June 2016, Lettington received a letter of discipline from the district and was suspended for five days without pay. He served his suspension from June 24-30, 2016. In the letter, the district directed Lettington to avoid any and all behaviour that could be perceived as “grooming” behaviour. He was also told not to have any communications with students using any technology other than his district email account, not to communicate with students using an alias, not to take photographs or form any images of students, and not to sponsor or participate in any school clubs, teams or other extracurricular activities.
This is also Lettington’s second consent resolution agreement. He signed the previous agreement in August 2013 based on the same facts from the district’s letter of discipline in March 2009. Under the terms of that agreement, Lettington agreed to a 30-day suspension of his certificate of qualification beginning on Sept. 3, 2013.
The consent resolution agreement does not state where Lettington was working at the time of the misconduct. He is currently listed as a teacher at Nanaimo District Secondary School.
School District 68 said in a statement that it cannot confirm the employment status of any school district employee. It also said the teacher regulation board the second phase in a disciplinary process. The district would have already concluded its own investigation into the matter.