Inappropriate reading material gets B.C. teacher-librarian fired, reprimand | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Inappropriate reading material gets B.C. teacher-librarian fired, reprimand

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April 21, 2021 - 6:30 AM

A B.C. teacher with a history of forging inappropriate relationships with students lost his job and got a reprimand from the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation for bringing inappropriate books into a school library.

Matthew Norman Lettington was working as a teacher-librarian in the Nanaimo Ladysmith School District in Dec. 20, 2019 when the district made its final complaint to the commissioner about him, according to a Consent Resolution Agreement.

As part of his duties in the library, the commissioner explained in a decision published online April 20, he was expected to select and purchase books for the school’s library.

These books are supposed to be purchased with an eye toward improving student learning, student engagement, aboriginal connections and curriculum, according to the Commissioner.

Further guiding those ideals was a policy that says, among other things, all school staff are to provide materials that will enrich and support the curriculum, taking into consideration the varied interests, abilities, learning styles and maturity levels of the students served. 

That’s not to say controversy is avoided.

Staff can also “provide materials on various sides of controversial issues so that young citizens may have an opportunity to develop under guidance, the practice of critical analysis and make informed decision in daily lives.”

Two book-buying decisions Lettington made, however, didn’t meet those aims.

On Sept. 7, 2017, Lettington ordered a graphic novel titled My New York Diary for the school. In January 2018 a student's parent contacted the school to complain about this book, which their child had checked out of the school library. The book had nudity, sexual acts, drug use and mature language.

Following this complaint, the principal met with Lettington, who agreed it was not suitable for all students in the school and maybe not for the library collection.

“In the end, the book was taken out of the library,” reads the decision.

On Nov. 30, 2017, Lettington purchased another graphic novel for the school library entitled, La Lesbienne Invisible.

This book had nudity, sexual acts and drug use.

When it arrived at the school, Lettington identified it as something that may not be suitable for the library, but instead of discarding it, he added it to a pile for review. He didn’t begin his review until May 2019.

On May 31, 2019, Lettington was back at work and checked the book out to a Grade 8 student.

Once the parent caught sight of it, a complaint was made to the principal. 

On Dec. 20, 2019, the district fired him.

It turned out that it wasn’t Lettington’s first run-in with the district.

In March 2009, he was suspended for 20 days due to inappropriate interactions and communications with students that spanned the period between 2006 and 2008. He had to complete a course on boundaries at the time.

“He was to avoid any and all behaviour which could be perceived as grooming behaviour,” reads the decision. “He was told not to have any communications with students using technology other than his district email account and to not use aliases.” reads the decision.

He also was forbidden from taking pictures of students or participating in school clubs.

Also, in 2016, he was given a letter of discipline and suspended for five days without pay.

The reprimand was made official March 23.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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