VANCOUVER — An elementary school teacher in British Columbia repeatedly sneaked into his school for late-night phone calls to sex chat lines and used a colleague's work laptop over a winter break to access explicit websites and download pornography, a disciplinary panel has found.
In a decision published on the province's Education Ministry website, the three-person panel found former Grade 4/5 teacher Darren Hankey guilty of professional misconduct related to behaviour that took place in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district between 2010 and 2013.
"Most of the allegations dealt with in this proceeding raise issues of dishonesty as a result of (Hankey's) desire to hide his inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature utilizing school property, and his lack of due diligence in record keeping,'' read the document.
"His conduct undermines the credibility of the profession.''
Hankey couldn't be reached for comment. He also wasn't present for the panel hearing, which took place in late 2014.
The panel based its decision in part on interviews conducted by a consultant hired by the school district.
In its 21-page ruling, the panel references evidence from the consultant's interviews that Hankey admitted to the allegations, which include forging the school principal's signature on report cards and claiming sick leave on four occasions to attend court hearings on an unrelated domestic abuse charge.
Hankey faced seven allegations, all of which the panel ruled were "proved,'' and all except one amounted to professional misconduct. The exception was the accusation that he failed to properly complete and file student report cards.
"His conduct undermines the credibility of the profession."
The document concluded Hankey took a fellow teacher's computer without her knowledge and used it during the 2012 winter break to access Internet pages with explicit content, including websites that connect "swingers'' for sexual purposes.
He also entered the school after hours on 35 occasions and made sexual phone calls, in some cases using the school phone, read the decision.
The panel accepted the allegation that Hankey stored about 200 explicit sexual images of himself and others on his work laptop and, when ordered to return the device, lied to both the school district and police that the computer had been stolen from his car during a trip to a Washington state casino.
"Clearly, dishonesty by a teacher is not model behaviour."
The decision described the sexual pictures as "mixed in with photos of (Hankey's) family, legal documents and report cards for students.''
"Clearly, dishonesty by a teacher is not model behaviour to be followed by students and does not honour the fundamental trust that a community must have in its teachers,'' read the document.
The panel references a single instance of evidence where Hankey refutes an allegation. In an interview, he denied accessing any inappropriate images at the school, and insisted students would not have had access to his computer or been at risk of inadvertently seeing the inappropriate material.
The school district placed Hankey on a paid leave of absence in May 2013 before firing him in February 2014, nearly 14 years after he was initially hired by the district.
The panel has asked for written submissions from B.C.'s commissioner for teacher regulation on an appropriate punishment.
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