Abbotsford teacher suspended for inappropriately touching students despite warning

Three students said touching made them feel uncomfortable but wasn’t sexual in nature

An Abbotsford middle school teacher has been suspended for inappropriately touching students after receiving several warnings about his behaviour.

The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation suspended James Douglas Klassen for three days and mandated he enroll in a professional boundaries training course.

Klassen was first warned by the school’s principal to not make physical contact with students in December of 2017. A month later, he was again told to “keep his hands in his pockets as a complaint has been made that he had made physical contact with a female student.”

Three students made complaints about Klassen’s touching, which they saidmade them feel uncomfortable but wasn’t sexual in nature.

One student said Klassen touched their lower back, arm, shoulder and hip. Another said he made contact with her arm, shoulder, hip and gave her a sideways hug. The third student said their arm and shoulder were touched.

An Abbotsford police liaison officer spoke with Klassen in February and “advised him that he needed to be careful about keeping a physical distance with students.”

When the commissioner was deciding an appropriate suspension, it was noted that Klassen was told to refrain from physical contact with students but failed to comply.

“Klassen lacked insight into his behaviour as it was his expectation that students should tell him that they were feeling uncomfortable,” the report states.

Any reports of future conduct breaches by Klassen may subject him to further discipline proceedings and investigations by the commissioner.

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