A Coquitlam middle school teacher received a two-day suspension and public reprimand after bringing his pet ball python to class as a Halloween prop last year.
Arthur Owen Sanderson has been teaching in B.C. since 1998, but October 2021 is the first time on record he chose to show off his three-foot reptile.
According to a consent resolution agreement from the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation published July 19, Sanderson brought his snake to school on the Friday before Halloween as an accessory to his post-apocalyptic costume. He kept the python curled up inside a pouch around his waist, and didn’t tell the school or parents he was bringing it.
When he brought it out to show one classroom of students, one kid didn’t understand it was real and volunteered to have it draped around their neck. They were alarmed when the creature was suddenly alive and slithering around.
Another kid reported being terrified of snakes and started crying when Sanderson brought it out of his pouch.
The snake also frightened one of Sanderson’s colleagues. He tricked her into reaching into his waist pouch without knowing what was inside and touching the snake. Unsure what she had felt, she withdrew her hand. Sanderson then revealed the snake, which proceeded to stick out its tongue, causing the colleague to run away.
In total throughout the day, Sanderson brought his snake to at least five classrooms and to the staff room at lunch time.
Last January, the school district suspended him for two days without pay.
The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation chose to further reprimand Sanderson by publishing their consent resolution agreement. The commissioner said Sanderson failed to model respectful behaviour and undermined the learning environment.