A former Maple Ridge teacher has been suspended after a years-long investigation revealed that he showed his class an inappropriate Halloween video and performed several other violations.
Austin Uzama held an elementary school teacher position at an independent school in Maple Ridge from September to November of 2018. During that time, the principal of the school cited several violations committed by Uzama, which would later be the subject of the report submitted to the BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation in December 2018.
The report, and subsequent investigation, revealed Uzama performed the following violations while teaching a Grade 5 class at the Maple Ridge school:
• Disciplined students in front of other students in a way that demeaned or embarrassed them.
• Announced that “the girls are going to kick the boys’ asses today” while heading outside for their daily physical activity.
• Showed students a Halloween-themed YouTube video that was deemed not age appropriate.
The video in question is called Jalal’s Scary Halloween Prank 3 and involves several scenes of individuals dressed up in Halloween costumes and scaring individuals by faking decapitation or chasing them. It also includes uncensored audio of people swearing throughout the video.
The commissioner investigation noted that while watching the video, “some students covered their ears and turned away from the video, while one student was impacted by the video for days.”
As a result of these various infractions, the Maple Ridge school terminated Uzama’s employment on Nov. 8, 2018.
The investigation report said that Uzama was also confirmed to have performed several other violations in addition to his activities at the Maple Ridge school.
These additional violations include:
• Claiming to have started a post baccalaureate diploma in Teaching English/French as a Second Language in his cover letter to School District 37 (Delta), despite not having applied for or taken any course in the program.
• Writing that he resigned from his Delta School District position and sessional position at UBC’s education faculty to commit himself fully to the Maple Ridge independent school, even though both resignations were determined to be made primarily for other reasons.
• Wrongly stating he had been awarded a graduate certificate in Child and Youth Mental Health by Thompson Rivers University.
• Claiming he had never been investigated or interviewed for anything related to his teaching, even though he had been investigated three times in 2017 and 2018 for his actions in Delta.
• Wrongly saying that he had been issued a certificate to teach kindergarten to Grade 12 in Japan.
• Accusing a student’s parent of slapping his face while standing near the principal and vice-principal at a graduation event, which was revealed to be untrue.
The investigation, which closed on Sept. 6, concluded a two-week suspension of Uzama’s teaching certificate was necessary, in addition to requiring him to complete a two-day teaching program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
The JIBC course he is required to take is called Creating a Positive Learning Environment, which will have its next available session in March 2023.
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