A teacher who once told students in his care he’d like to hurt students, and that he wanted to use one student to kill and injure other students, will be teaching Grade 6/7 at Heritage Elementary School this fall.
In Heritage Elementary’s June 1 newsletter to parents, outgoing principal Linda Picton encouraged parents to, “Please welcome Josh Laurin who will be joining our staff next year as a grade 6/7 teacher.” Laurin is listed in the school's staff directory, and is also listed in the staff directory of École Heather Park Elementary as a Grade 5/6 teacher.
In a consent resolution agreement from 2019, B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation Howard Kushner suspended the teaching certificate of Joshua Frederick Roland Laurin for one day for professional misconduct, after an incident on Nov. 6, 2018, while Laurin was a teacher on call working for School District 72 (Campbell River). Laurin signed the consent agreement in Prince George on Sept. 6, 2019, in which he admitted the facts laid out in the agreement.
According to the consent resolution agreement, Laurin was supervising a Grade 8 class field trip when he made comments overheard by some students.
“Laurin said that he would like to use one of the students on the field trip to beat two other students to death and to injure a third one. Laurin said he wanted to use one of the students to ‘whack’ two others,” the consent agreement said. “After the field trip, when the students were back in their classroom, Laurin commented that if he was going to die the following day, he would want to hurt students as he would not then get into any trouble.”
According to the consent resolution agreement, which is published online, Laurin also said he “did not like this job or being around kids,” and that he liked teaching Grade 8 “because he could leave students with worksheets and then leave them to it.”
“Some of the students who heard these comments described them as ‘weird’ and reported feeling shocked by them, although they thought that Laurin was joking,” the consent resolution statement says.
On Nov. 8, 2019, School District 72 issued a letter of discipline to Laurin and suspended him from the teacher-on-call list for three weeks. The district also required Laurin to complete the Justice Institute of B.C.’s Reinforcing Professional Boundaries course, which he did in March 2019.
School District 72 also reported Laurin to the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, under section 16 of the School Act.
Laurin had been teaching at École College Heights Elementary from September to Nov. 14, 2019, when he was removed from his position.
"Once this matter was brought forward, he was removed from his classroom," former School District 57 board chairperson Tim Bennett said at the time. "This matter is currently being looked into and addressed by the district.”
‘I AM DEEPLY CONCERNED’
A parent of children attending Heritage Elementary this fall said they were surprised and concerned when they learned about Laurin’s conduct in the recent past. The parent spoke to the Citizen on the condition of anonymity.
“This is the individual I am entrusting to spend as much time with my children as I get to,” the parent said. “Is he a safe adult to be around children? I am deeply concerned surrounding that.”
The parent said they know there is a shortage of qualified teachers, but “I can’t believe this is our best option.”
“If this person is an amazing educator who made a mistake, then why weren’t we front-loaded with that information?” they said. “What has changed this year to allow him to teach at Heritage, when he wasn’t allowed to teach at École College Heights (in 2019)?”
Parents should have been informed about Laurin’s past, and the steps he and the district have taken to allow him to return to the classroom safely, they added.
School District 57 superintendent Cindy Heitman declined to comment on the issue, as it is a personnel matter.
Laurin, District chairperson Sharel Warrington, Heritage Parent Advisory Council chairperson Sandra Blackwell and District Parent Advisory Council chairperson Andrea Beckett did not return requests for comment from the Citizen as of Wednesday at 5 p.m.