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Kelowna woman faked teaching certificate, taught at private school

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A Kelowna woman who faked a teaching certificate and taught at a private school for a year has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

According to a recently released B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation decision, Nicola Julie Pendleton used a forged copy of a teacher's certificate to land a teaching job and then lied to investigators about it.

The decision says Pendleton did have a temporary teaching certificate issued in 2012 and valid until June 2018.

However, when July 2018 came around, rather than take the education courses required to have her certificate extended, Pendleton instead faked a copy which stated she was registered.

She even paid her annual teacher's fees to the Teacher Regulation Branch.

The decision says Pendleton used the fake certificate to land a job at Kelowna's private Lakeside School.

After sending her yearly dues to the Teachers' Regulation Branch it confirmed receipt of the payment.

A staff member testified that she didn't notice the certificate it had on file had expired.

However, one week later the computer system registered a payment on an expired teaching licence.

The Teachers' Regulation Branch then emailed Pendleton.

"You do not hold a valid certificate at this time and are not able to teach. In order for you to teach, you will need to re-apply to be certified again in British Columbia," the email read.

It appears the school was unaware of this and continued to employ Pendleton. The school also paid her Teachers' Regulation Branch fees by deducting them from her wages.

More than one year after her licence had expired the school got an email from the Teachers' Regulation Branch refunding the fees it paid stating that Pendleton didn't have a licence.

It appears the school thought this was a mistake and emailed Pendleton asking, "Did you find out anything about your teaching certificate?"

The school emailed the Teachers' Regulation Branch saying it had a valid copy of her licence so it didn't understand why her fees had been refunded?

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Weeks later the Ministry of Education started an inspection of the school and asked to see all the teachers' certificates.

"We are trying to figure out how she got a valid license and where the error has occurred," one email read.

Lots of emails went back and forth trying to work out where the "mistake" was until the Branch confirmed there was no record of a valid teaching certificate.

The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation then opened up an investigation.

Pendleton told the investigator that she had sent the original copies of her correspondence to the Teacher Regulation Branch but hadn't received anything back.

However, the Commissioner didn't buy it.

The Commissioner found that the Pendleton had used a false professional certificate of qualification.

The decision says Pendleton didn't take part in the hearing, but shows that the Commissioner made multiple attempts by email, registered mail, and through an internal email system to advise her of the hearing.

On occasion, Pendleton responded saying she suffered from migraines and had chronic pain syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. She also included a letter from a doctor saying she was undergoing testing for early-onset Alzheimer's.

The Commissioner said the "medical certificates" were "vaguely worded and didn't provide enough ground for delaying the hearing."

Ultimately, the Commissioner found her guilty of professional misconduct.

A penalty will be imposed at a later date.

READ MORE: B.C. elementary school teacher reprimanded for using wrestling moves on students

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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