A teacher from the Greater Victoria area will have his teaching certificate suspended for five months for professional misconduct, including saying “I love you” to a male student and giving the teenager gifts.
The decision was reached by the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch on May 1. In the decision, Robert Darwin Ammon was determined to have an inappropriate relationship of a non-sexual nature with the student in 2013.
According to the original citation in July 2015, Ammon spent time with the student early in the morning before class in a one-on-one fitness program. There were also frequent, extensive and confidential emails exchanged with the student where Ammon encouraged the student to talk about his personal issues and emotions. In multiple, Ammon told the student, “I love you.”
Ammon also told the student he was proud of him and he would be there for him, as well as expressing his desire or wish to hear from the student regularly. The emails were sent outside of school hours.
The student also received gifts from Ammon, despite requests from the student’s parents to stop.
The decision states that the relationship lasted for a period of three months. The panel found the relationship to be “inappropriately personal and unprofessional,” stating that the relationship persisted and intensified over months, making it more serious than if it were a small number of less related incidents.
The panel also looked at the emails saying that while emails are a private form of communications Ammon failed to disclose the existence or nature of the emails to school administration or the student’s parent when the student was “emotionally distressed and in need of intervention.”
“Therefore the reasonable conclusion is that the Respondent did intend to keep the communications private and that secrecy ultimately exacerbated the risk of harm to the student,” the decision said.
The panel also said the misconduct was serious enough to create “significant risk of serious emotional harm to a vulnerable student at a difficult time in his life,” and that Ammon was aware of the student’s vulnerability. Ammon, as the respondent, has said that his intent was to help the student.
Ammon’s suspension will occur during school months. He will also have to complete a British Columbia Justice Institute course on professional boundaries or an equivalent. He is not restricted from the classroom after his suspension but cannot take on any extra-curricular duties that include supervising students one-on-one until he completes the course.
Reasons for Decision