Burnaby teacher penalized for shaving student’s head without parental consent

Vacant desks are pictured at the front of a empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver on Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jonathan Hayward

A Burnaby, B.C., teacher has been reprimanded for shaving a student’s head and was forced to take a lesson on professional boundaries.

The teacher on call, Michael John Rhodes, was teaching a Grade 6/7 class in the Burnaby school district last January when a Grade 6 student approached him with a proposition to shave his head for basketball season, and Rhodes agreed, according to a recent consent resolution agreement published by the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch. 

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On Jan. 27, 2020, the student, referred to as “Student A,” brought hair clippers to school and claimed his parents gave him permission to take and use the clippers, according to the agreement.

That apparently wasn’t the case.

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At recess, “without permission from Student A’s parents or school administrators, Rhodes proceeded to shave Student A’s hair in front of some of Student A’s classmates,” the document said.

The specific school involved is not identified.

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On Feb. 10, the school district sanctioned Rhodes and issued him a letter of discipline.

Rhodes was required to apologize to the student and his parents for his actions.

He was also forced to complete a course offered by the Justice Institute of B.C. called The Mindful Educator, Beyond Expertise and Technique.

Rhodes was only allowed to substitute teach at secondary schools until that course was completed.

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In August, B.C.’s Commissioner for Teacher Regulation proposed a consent resolution agreement with Rhodes under the Teachers Act.

Howard Kushner determined Rhodes’ conduct showed “a lack of understanding of appropriate professional boundaries,” according to the agreement.