A substitute teacher has been handed a two-day suspension from B.C. Teacher Regulation Board after showing short films depicting disturbing animated characters to a group of high school students.
According to a decision published this week, James Thwaites was a teacher on call in the Nechako Lakes school district in early March 2018. The school district includes Fort St. James, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof.
In January of that year, while teaching a Grade 7-8 class at a secondary school in the region, Thwaites showed students three inappropriate short films, the decision reads, including a well-known online British series called “Salad Fingers.”
In that film, the animated characters were heard saying “the feeling of rust against my salad fingers is almost orgasmic,” followed by “I must caress your rusty kettle.”
Thwaites also showed students a second film, called “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared,” which showed puppets drawing skulls, then trying to glue glitter on an anatomical heart before cutting a pie comprised of bloody meat and writing out the word “death.” The third film, titled “ASDFmovie,” showed a female stick character stabbing another, as well as a number of dead stick children.
“Students reported finding these films weird, creepy and inappropriate,” the regulation board said.
Thwaites also discussed other inappropriate matters with his students, including his pending divorce and the related expenses and that he was dating a woman from overseas.
While substitute teaching for a Grade 3-4 class at an elementary school in the region a month later, the regulation board said that Thwaites discussed having “crushes” with a group of four students. He asked one student how his girlfriends were before telling the student: “Oh, you’re such a player.”
Thwaites resigned from his position on March 16 and the school district made a report to the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation on March 19.
Earlier this month, Thwaites was given a two-day retroactive suspension for his actions.
According to the published documents, this wasn’t the first time Thwaites garnered attention from his bosses for his behaviour.
In June 2016, a principal in a different school district sent Thwaites a letter reminding him to speak and act with courtesy, respect and dignity, understand that students have the right to an educational environment that is safe and healthy and that he should always act in the students’ best interest.
In November 2017, the same district issued another letter, reminding Thwaites to “be responsible for creating a positive school climate where professional boundaries are established and maintained,” and act respectfully to fellow staff and other adults.