On-call Surrey teacher’s chaotic classrooms left kids in tears

David Lee Burns reprimanded by provincial body for failing to follow instructions and properly care for and instruct children.

A substitute teacher in Surrey whose “chaotic” classrooms had children crying on more than one occasion and who once left kindergarten kids outside at the end of the day, has been disciplined by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation (BCCTR).

David Lee Burns worked as an on-call teacher in the Surrey School District, filling in at several elementary schools from 2009 to 2014.

According to a consent resolution agreement made public by the BCCTR, the incidents in question related to time he worked at Panorama Park, Bear Creek and Don Christian elementary schools.

In November 2013 at Panorama, he didn’t follow the lesson plan left by the kindergarten teacher and let things get so chaotic in the classroom that more than one student was in tears. At the end of the day, he took the class of five-year-olds outside and didn’t return them to the classroom for proper dismissal, leaving the children on the playground during a busy time when the rest of the school was being dismissed.

In January 2014, covering a Grade 6/7 class at Bear Creek, he again didn’t follow the teacher’s plan, despite leaving a note saying he had done so. He also provided “minimal instruction” and much of the day was “free time,” according to the BCCTR agreement, leaving the kids confused about what they were supposed to do. The class was so chaotic – children were coming and going freely, throwing paper airplanes, talking loudly and running around – that a frustrated child was found in the hallway crying.

During two days the next month at Don Christian, the teacher’s lesson plan again was again not followed.

The school district had reprimanded Burns five years earlier, after an investigation revealed he had not properly evacuated students in his care during a fire drill, hadn’t dismissed them properly and failed to read the on-call teacher file as required.

A second discipline letter was issued by the district after the 2013 and 2014 incidents. In November last year, the teacher regulation branch investigated and Burns admitted to professional misconduct.