BC teacher suspended after "inappropriate contact" with students on Instagram

May 12 2021, 1:25 pm

A school teacher has been suspended after inappropriate contact with young students through Instagram.

Erik Christian Oun was an elementary school teacher for the Coquitlam School District. A report from the BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation says that Oun “engaged in inappropriate contact through social media” and shared “personal, sensitive, and confidential information about a student with another student.”

According to the Commissioner, Oun failed to observe professional boundaries on at least two occasions. One of these occasions involved “Student A,” a fifth-grade student during the 2018-19 school year.

During the school year, Oun taught Student A and “often hugged” them. After the school year had ended, he texted the student’s mother to explain that he was “chatting on Instagram” with them. Oun told the mother that he had “a very few select former students” that he chatted with, stressing that it was only with the knowledge of their parents.

“In this day and age, we all have to be careful,” he told Student A’s mother.

In some of these messages, Oun would call Student A nicknames like “sweetheart,” “sweetie,” “sweets,” and “goof.” He would also send emojis of red and purple hearts, as well as smiley faces.

When Student A failed to respond quickly to Oun’s messages, he would reply, saying things like “DON’T BE SNOBBY ANSWER ME” or calling them “Smobby McSnobertson.” Oun would then send video clips and graphics of a begging dog and a crying baby.

The report adds that Oun would send messages like “Hey, are you still allowed to chat? You’re not answering!” and “If I’m bugging you too much, I’m sorry.” On another occasion, he messaged Student A, saying that his family was away and asked what they were doing.

Student A’s mother would later ask Oun to stop messaging them. Oun replied that he was “truly sorry,” adding that he “made a poor judgement.”

However, he would send additional texts to Student A after the student wished Oun a happy birthday.

The report also elaborated on Oun’s actions with another student, referred to as “Student B.” This individual was also a fifth-grade student during the 2018-19 school year. The documented messages to the student were sent over the summer. Similarly, Oun would ask Student B for permission from a parent before messaging.

Oun would also call this student nicknames such as “sweetheart” and “sweetie.” Other messages and compliments such as, “I love how you pose for pics” and “in the pic, you look adorable” were sent to the student. Another text disclosed in the report read, “Byw just watching your vids again! I love them!! You’re fun to watch!”

The report adds that Oun also disclosed “sensitive, personal, and confidential information” about another student to Student B.

When Student B failed to respond to Oun’s messages, Oun would also call them “Snobby McSnobbertson” and send video clips of a baby crying and a dog begging.

The report says that Oun acknowledged these actions and, as a result, will be serving a six-month suspension of his teaching certificate. The suspension will begin later this month and restart in September, carrying on until January 2022. He is also required to complete a course called “Reinforcing Respectful Professional Boundaries.” 

The BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation states that Oun “engaged in inappropriate contact through social media” and shared “personal, sensitive, and confidential information about a student with another student.”

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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