UPDATE: This story has been updated with comments from Ralf St. Clair, dean of education at the University of Victoria, and Glen Hansman, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation
Brad Skene and his wife Alanna Skene, both teachers in the Cowichan Valley school district, have been disciplined and reprimanded for inappropriate activities with former students.
The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation has disciplined the teachers after complaints were made about them in April, 2015.
Legal documents in the husband’s case state that in February, 2010, Brad Skene engaged in inappropriate conduct with a former student of his from Cowichan Secondary School.
Skene had taught her and coached her sports team at the school, where he and his wife are also former graduates.
The former student was 19 at the time and had graduated two years before.
One night, after a sports event, the student, Skene and some others went to a residence of another coach.
While there, the student and Skene spent time in a hot tub alone.
As it was late when they got out of the hot tub and they both had been drinking alcohol, they decided that they would stay overnight at the residence.
While they were in bed, Skene “spooned” and hugged his former pupil by lying behind her with his body touching hers.
When that happened, the student left the bedroom and walked home alone in the early hours of the morning.
Skene emailed the student the next day and apologized to her.
These events are contrary to Standard 2 of the Standards for the Education, Competence and Professional Conduct of Educators in British Columbia.
As well, in December, 2013, and June, 2014, Skene, along with his wife, hosted two social gatherings for former students at their house.
In the 2013 incident, Skene provided alcohol to former students who were under the age of 19 and in the 2014 incident, he permitted a former student who was 18 to consume alcohol provided by her father.
Skene was sent a letter of discipline by the school district in 2015 for the activities that occurred in his house.
In May, 2017, the Commissioner for Teacher Regulation considered the matter and determined to propose a consent resolution agreement to Skene in which he was reprimanded and must complete a course on reinforcing respectful professional boundaries.
Skene’s wife Alanna was also disciplined by the Commissioner for the events in 2013 and 2014 in her and her husband’s home.
She was also sent a letter of discipline by the school district in 2015 for the activities that occurred in her house.
Alanna Skene was also reprimanded by the Commissioner in May for her part in the activities in her home.
The Skenes are longtime coaches of the Cowichan Secondary girls rugby program, and led the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds to the provincial championship in 2013, the first rugby title for the school in 15 years.
They were also presented with the City of Duncan’s Perpetual Trophy for Excellence and Sportsmanship later that year.
Ralf St. Clair, dean of education at the University of Victoria, said the fact that a number of the former students involved in the incidents were 19 years old or older and considered legally adults doesn’t matter in this case.
He said teachers have the duty and responsibility to act as parents to students in their care while in school, and if the relationship between students and their teachers extend beyond graduation, teachers are still required to treat the relationship as a parental one even if the students are legally adults at the time.
“So it’s not OK for a teacher of Grade 12 students to party and socialize with them in the years following their graduations,” he said.
“As well, my understanding is that alcohol was provided to minors as part of the case, and that’s always beyond a teacher’s professional practices.”
Glen Hansman, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, said lots of teachers maintain contact with their students after they graduate and go out for coffee from time to time, but this situation is “unusual”.
He said the nature of the incidents and providing alcohol to under aged people is not acceptable conduct for teachers.
“I think the discipline that was meted out in this case is appropriate,” Hansman said.
As for details of punishment for the Skenes for their actions, St. Clair said such issues are typically written into the contracts of teachers in individual school districts, so they could be different depending on in what district what district the incidents occurred.
“Disciplinary actions and reprimands could come in the form of a letter of expectations for the future for teachers, and it could also mean loss of pay, loss of seniority or other punishments, depending on the district,” he said.