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Port Alberni teacher suspended after student injured with pool noodle

This is the third time teacher has been suspended by School District 70 in past three years
School District 70-Pacific Rim’s head office is located in Port Alberni, B.C. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

A Port Alberni teacher has had his teaching certificate suspended for three days after encouraging students to hit each other with pool noodles in a physical education (P.E.) class.

According to a consent resolution agreement from the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, Russ Bodnar has agreed to a three-day suspension of his teaching certificate from March 13, 2024 to March 15, 2024. He is being disciplined for an incident in 2023, when he was teaching a Grade 9 P.E. class and allowed students to play a game of hockey using foam pool noodles instead of hockey sticks.

Bodnar encouraged students playing the game to use the pool noodles to hit one another.

“During this activity, Bodnar was looking on and encouraging students by saying things like ‘Beat him! Get him! You can get him!’ and encouraging students being hit to ‘fight back’ with their pool noodle,” Commissioner Ana R. Mohammed notes in the agreement dated Feb. 16, 2024.

Although students were told not to aim for the head or to hit “too hard,” students hit each other above the neck with the pool noodles and one student was hit in the face repeatedly, knocking the glasses off their face and causing the glasses to break. Despite the fact that the student’s face was “red, bruised and sore” after the game, Bodnar did not complete an incident report, submit anything to school administration or explain to the student’s parents how their glasses broke.

Officials from School District 70 (Pacific Rim) issued Bodnar a letter of discipline, suspended him five days without pay and reported the incident to the B.C. Commissioner.

This is the third time Bodnar has been suspended by the school district in the last three years. He was suspended in 2021 for allegedly making “inappropriate” comments to his Grade 8 P.E. class, including encouraging students to “twerk.” He was also suspended for another incident that happened the same year where he demonstrated an athletic technique on a student without the student’s consent. This second incident also resulted in a supplemental one-day suspension of his teaching certificate from the B.C. Commissioner, and Bodnar was removed from all coaching duties.

READ MORE: Port Alberni teacher suspended for touching student during athletic demonstration

Mohammed said that Bodnar has “engaged in repeated concerning conduct” and has “exposed his students to physical harm and created an unsafe environment.”

Along with the suspension of his teaching certificate, Bodnar will also be required to complete the Justice Institute of B.C. course “Creating a Positive Learning Environment.”

About the Author: Alberni Valley News Staff

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