A B.C. high school teacher had his qualifications suspended for one month, after a provincial regulatory board found he had unprofessional communication with a recent graduate.
Douglas Andrew Barnim was teaching at an unnamed independent secondary school in the 2018/2019 school year. When the school year let out, Barnim stayed in touch with a student he had taught and coached.
That student had graduated from Grade 12, and Barnim told them over text message that he hoped they could stay in touch and that they would be friends for life. Barnim also told the student they were his favourite and made comments about the student’s classmates. Barnim went on to give the student dating advice, including comments about topics related to sex, and told the student being underage had never stopped anyone from going to a bar.
The student reported the communication, saying it made them feel very uncomfortable.
In December 2019, the school issued Barnim a letter of discipline and directed him to complete a course on respectful professional boundaries through the Justice Institute of B.C. The following June, the school fired Barnim for an unrelated reason.
The complaint over Barnim’s inappropriate communication was forwarded on to the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation. On Oct. 20, Barnim admitted to sending the various text messages and agreed it was unprofessional.
The commissioner suspended Barnim’s teaching qualification for one month.