Petition calls for Lake Country science teacher's return after $60,000 science experiment fire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Petition calls for Lake Country science teacher's return after $60,000 science experiment fire

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
June 17, 2020 - 9:50 AM

A petition calling for the return of a science teacher to Lake Country after he was suspended for 10 days and transferred to another Central Okanagan school after he caused almost $60,000 worth of damage to the school is being shared around social media.

Allan David Penner has been a teacher since 1992 and on Feb. 16, 2018 he made a chemical volcano for his Grade 9 George Elliot Secondary School science class involving the decomposition process of ammonium dichromate, according to a B.C. Commission for Teacher Regulation decision.

A petition on calling for Penner’s return to George Elliot Secondary School in Lake Country has garnered more than 700 signatures. It was originally launched two years ago, but was posted June 17 in a well-known Lake Country Facebook group following the commission's decision.

Before conducting the demonstration, however, Penner failed to review or follow specifications outlined for the safe handling of ammonium dichromate and chromium oxide.

As such, the longtime teacher made a number of blunders that were contrary to safety guidelines. Among them, he did not wear safety glasses or goggles, did not wear a lab coat and the ventilation system was not up to snuff, which put him and the students at risk of exposure to chemicals.

When disposing of the chemicals used in the experiment he made the worst mistake of all. Penner used water to wet down the residue, wrapped it in paper towels and threw it in the garbage can in the classroom.

“In doing so, Penner did not consider the possibility that the residue contained unreduced amounts of an oxidizing chemical which was not sufficiently cooled down and which created a fire hazard when thrown in the garbage can,” reads the decision. “The residue reacted with garbage in the can and several hours later it started a fire which cost $59,655.99 in damage.”

On Sept. 25, 2018, the district issued Penner a letter of discipline and suspended him without pay for 10 days. In addition, he was transferred to a different school in the district.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan science teacher creates explosive situation; loses license for three days

“Mr. Penner is one of the most valued, loved, and funniest teachers in the Lake Country community. Students everywhere greatly enjoy his science classes, humorous stories, nature walks, teaching techniques, patience, and intelligence,” reads the petition.

“He has been at George Elliot Secondary for more than twenty years, and we, the undersigned, hereby state that we want him to once again return to teach at our school.”

— This story was updated at 3:25 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2020 to clarify the petition was originally launched two years ago.

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