A teacher in Saanich is now being penalized by the British Columbia Commissioner for Teacher Regulation (BCCTR) for calling non-verbal students “dumb,” shaming a student’s attire, making racist implications to a student, and threatening Grade 3 students.
A report was recently published by the BCCTR that details the misconduct of Edward Garrit Timmermans, who had been a teacher in Saanich School District (SD63) since 1989.
The first of Timmermans’ known inappropriate transgressions toward students occurred in April 2021. In this incident, Timmermans rudely shamed an Indigenous student for the clothes they were wearing.
On April, 28th, 2021, an Indigenous Grade 7 student, who was not in Timmermans class, rudely asked a Grade 6 student what they were looking at.
Timmermans overheard and interjected. He asked the Grade 6 student, “are you laughing at [the Grade 7 student] due to the bikini top?”
The teacher then approached the Grade 7 student and told her, “perhaps [the Grade 6 student] is laughing at you because of what you’re wearing.”
He then rudely said to her, “you have your bra hanging out and people are going to look at you.”
Timmermans then went inside his classroom to address the Grade 6 student and their role in the situation. When he went out into the hallway, another teacher was with the Grade 7 student.
Timmermans told her that what she was wearing was inappropriate for school and continued by saying, “[last week] you were wearing booty shorts so short your bum was showing and I had to turn my eyes away.”
During this interaction, Timmermans lowered his facemask and gestured toward his grey facial hair. He referred to himself as an elder to the Indigenous student in an act he may or may not have known had racist implications.
The teacher’s role in this interaction was not consistent with school board expectations, in which educators are supposed to seek the aid of administrators or counsellors when addressing individual student’s attire and dress code issues. Timmermans was reminded of this in a staff meeting less than a month prior to the incident.
On May 5th, 2021, Timmermans received a disciplinary letter of warning from SD63 with a list of conditions he had to follow.
He completed courses pertaining to “building compassionate classrooms” and “cultural competency training.”
He was also told to “refrain from language or conversation that could be interpreted as demeaning” and “seek support and guidance when unsure how best to respond to concerns.”
The second incident Timmermans was involved in happened just seven months later on November 21st, 2021.
While with a Grade 3 class on a school field trip, Timmmermans began the trip by saying a few jokes into the microphone. Then he told students, “if you need to stand up to shout across the bus, you need to understand that I will rip out your vocal cords and then throw them out the window.”
In a parent-teacher meeting with the mother of a student in the same Grade 3 class, concerns were raised over her child becoming physical in aggressive situations.
Timmermans responded by indicating to the mother that if her child became physical, he would block the child’s attack and they “may get hurt.” The educator then gestured with his arm as if he was hitting someone.
This same child whose mother expressed concern over aggressive situations to Timmermans was having an off day in class one day shortly after they spoke.
The student had their head on their desk with their hood over their head, being non-compliant with Timmermans’ instructions; however, the student was quiet and not disrupting class.
Timmermans told the student to leave the class and when they didn’t respond, the teacher knelt by the child’s desk and told them, “you can make a decision to leave, or I will remove you.”
He did not end up forcefully removing the student but his actions have been deemed inappropriate by the BCCTR nonetheless. The correct course of action according to SD63 guidelines would have been to let the child be, especially if the student is able to self-regulate and isn’t causing a disruption.
One day while instructing his Grade 3 class, the same child whose mother had raised concerns over referred to themselves as “dumb” in class. Timmermans retorted that, “dumb means you are unable to speak and clearly you are speaking.”
The teacher then recounted the interaction with colleagues of his following the incident and they reminded him that some students can be non-verbal to which he said, “yeah, and they are dumb.”
For incidents two and three, Timmermans was given a one month suspension of which he still had not served as of January 23rd, 2023.
He was also made to complete the training courses; “10 ways to de-escalate big behaviours” and “enhancing emotional intelligence.”
He has only completed one of those courses.
Timmermans has signed and agreed that his actions in the incidents constituted professional misconduct.
Because of what happened, on February 23rd, 2022, Timmermans resigned from the SD63 effective June 30th, 2022.
The BCCTR decided that because he failed to treat students with acceptance, dignity and respect and failed to show care for students’ mental and emotional wellbeing and failed to model appropriate behaviour expected of an educator, he is being made to complete an additional course — “creating a positive learning environment” — by March 31st, 2023.
Although he’s already resigned, if the course is not completed Timmermans will lose his certificate which qualifies him to teach children in BC in the future.