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Head-shaving Burnaby teacher disciplined again for endangering students

Michael John Rhodes jeopardized the safety of his students during a trip to the park and then asked a colleague to lie about it, according to the province's teacher watchdog.
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Burnaby teacher Michael John Rhodes has been disciplined for endangering his students, including allowing them to carry on a pretend sword fight with 18-inch sticks. (Photo illustration and not the actual incident.)

A Burnaby teacher already disciplined once for shaving a student’s head two years ago without parental permission has been sanctioned again for endangering students and then asking a colleague to lie about it during a school district investigation.

Substitute teacher Michael John Rhodes was teaching a Grade 5 and 6 class in May 2021, according to a consent resolution agreement posted on the Teacher Regulation Branch website this week.

On that day, Rhodes and two education assistants took the students to a park near the school.

Although the students had to cross two roads, one of which involved a busy intersection, Rhodes did not provide any safety instructions to the class, according to the resolution agreement.

Once they were assembled outside the school, he simply yelled, “Are you ready, let’s go!” the agreement states.

“Some of the students rushed ahead and ran to the park, crossing both roads without adult supervision and out of Rhodes’ eyesight,” the agreement states.

At the park, some students pretended to have a sword fight with 18-inch sticks, according to the agreement.

Instead of shutting down the pretend fight, Rhodes said, “Let kids be kids, let boys be boys,” the agreement states.

After the incident, during a district investigation, Rhodes approached one of the EAs who had been there and asked her to lie to the school principal and say she had heard him yell at the students who were running ahead to slow down and wait.

The district eventually issued Rhodes a letter of discipline and suspended him without pay for seven days in September 2021.

The district also limited Rhodes’ employment as a teacher on call to secondary schools.

After an investigation by the province’s teacher watchdog, Rhodes’ teaching licence was also suspended for a day.

As part of the consent resolution agreement, which was signed last month, Rhodes is now banned from teaching students in kindergarten to Grade 7.

The agreement notes Rhodes’ actions “jeopardized the physical safety of the students in his class,” and he “sought to actively mislead the district in their investigation.”

This isn’t the first time Rhodes has been disciplined.

In February 2020, the district ordered him to complete the “Mindful Educator, Beyond Expertise and Technique” course at the Justice Institute of B.C. after he shaved a Grade 6 student’s head at the student’s request but without his parents’ permission.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com