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B.C. teacher disciplined for showing age-inappropriate movies to Grade 6, 7 students

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Martin Freeman, left, and John Callen in a scene from 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.'.
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Martin Freeman, left, and John Callen in a scene from 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.'. AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Mark Pokorny

A teacher in the Prince George School District served a one-day suspension Tuesday after a number of complaints were issued about his behaviour.

Andrew Dennis was teaching grades 6 and 7 in October 2018 when some of his students’ parents complained to the Commissioner for Teacher Regulation that Dennis had shown his class the films The Hobbit and To Kill a Mockingbird, both of which are not on the curriculum.

To Kill a Mockingbird is listed as a secondary school book for grades 10 and higher and contains themes of “racism and rape” and “repeated use” of the N-word, according to the Teacher Regulation report posted online.

The ruling states that Dennis was given a letter of expectation from the school district on Oct. 2, 2018, regarding the showing of non-curriculum and age-inappropriate material and he shared that information with his class.

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Following this letter, on Oct. 11, Dennis had his class read the short story The Lottery and then showed the students the short film on YouTube. This story tells about a small American town that sacrifices someone every year by stoning to ensure a good harvest.

In the B.C. curriculum, this short story is a secondary school level resource for grades 11 and 12.

Students said after reading this story and seeing the film, Dennis taught them a game of dodgeball in their PE class based on the stoning scene in The Lottery.

The commission said Dennis was again reminded to stick to the grades 6/7 curriculum.

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In February 2020, the school district also reported to the commissioner that in October 2019, Dennis was a teacher on call at another school, which had a no-touch policy, and it was documented that he did not stop two students wrestling and pulling on each other’s clothes as he said they were “just playing.”

Dennis was also issued a letter in March 2019 for leaving kindergarten students unsupervised in a hallway.

Aside from the one-day suspension, he must successfully complete a course called Creating a Positive Learning Environment through the Justice Institute of British Columbia by Dec. 31. 2021.

He is not allowed to teach kindergarten and grades 1 to 7 until he completes the course.

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