News

SD43 teacher quits after warnings about touching

A School District 43 instructor who had been warned multiple times not to touch students has agreed to resign and sign an undertaking prohibiting him from teaching in the future.

Kevin James Buffell was suspended with pay last January after he was observed by a school principal with a female student in his Grade 2/3 class sitting on his lap in a darkened room while watching a movie.

According to a consent resolution agreement written by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation Bruce Preston, Buffell had been warned as early as September 2013 to manage his interactions with students in order to limit contact with the children. He was again warned later that fall by a district investigator and told to “not get physical or have contact with children, and that he should not have children sitting on his lap.”

“During the district investigation, Buffell admitted that in spite of the warnings he had previously received, he often allowed girls in his class to sit in his lap, that he sometimes picked them up and that he also hugged them,” Preston wrote in the agreement.

The document also stated that Buffell had been accessing inappropriate websites during class time.

Some of the sites contained graphic images of a “highly sexualized nature and/or inappropriate relationships between adults and children, including incest.”

The report noted that Buffell visited the websites while teaching in the school’s computer lab.

School District 43 released a statement to the media on Wednesday. Patricia Gartland, an assistant superintendent, said privacy legislation prevents the district from commenting on the consent resolution agreements. She also noted that parents with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact both the district and the Port Moody Police Department.

In response to SD43’s release, Port Moody Police Department released a statement saying that while it could not name the individual involved because there were no criminal charges, investigators had been informed of allegations of a male teacher acting inappropriately at an elementary school.

“Police determined that nothing of a criminal nature had occurred,” said Port Moody Police Department Const. Luke van Winkel in a statement. “As there are no criminal offences, the matter was deemed to be a personnel matter for SD43.”

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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