01/10/2013 20:31 EST | Updated 03/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Vancouver teacher not co-operating with investigation, ministry says

The head of B.C.'s new Teachers Regulation Branch is trying to force a Vancouver high school teacher to comply with a disciplinary investigation.

In a petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Commissioner Bruce Preston claims Sir Winston Churchill Secondary teacher Sean McLaughlin hasn't responded to investigators' phone calls and letters.

The court documents claim McLaughlin is being investigated for allegations of inappropriate communications and physical contact with a student from 2001 to 2009. He's also accused of writing inappropriate comments in students' yearbooks.

The petition claims the Vancouver School District issued McLaughlin a letter of discipline on Oct. 19, 2010 following an internal investigation launched after the student complained to police and her former school.

The matter was then sent to the old B.C. College of Teachers, which was replaced last year by the regulation branch. The new Teachers Act gives the Commissioner the ability to compel witnesses and require disclosure — power which didn't exist under the old legislation.

"The Commissioner submits there is no right to remain silent in disciplinary proceedings, which are civil in nature," the petition states.

"(McLaughlin) is compellable as a witness and must attend an interview to give evidence if required to do so under the Act."

The petition claims investigators left phone messages and wrote letters to McLaughlin both at his home and at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary. The most recent was allegedly to advise him that an interview had been scheduled for last month. The document claims that he did not attend or reply to reschedule.

The Vancouver School Board wouldn't discuss the petition or the allegations, but confirmed that McLaughlin is still teaching in the district.

McLaughlin could not be reached for comment.