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B.C. teacher reprimanded over discriminatory jokes, offensive remarks

Bruce David Russell singled out international and racialized students on multiple occasions
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Vancouver teacher Bruce David Russell must take a course on professional boundaries after the teaching regulatory college found he made numerous discriminatory jokes and offensive comments towards students in the fall of 2022. (Pixabay)

A Vancouver teacher who joked that an international student from Asia must have been "up all night doing karaoke" has been reprimanded for the comment, along with numerous other offensive remarks he made. 

The B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation published its decision against high school teacher Bruce David Russell on Tuesday (July 9), issuing him an official reprimand and ordering that he complete a course on professional boundaries. 

Russell has held a teaching certificate in B.C. since 1994, but the complaints he was disciplined for all occurred in the fall of 2022. 

They began in October of that year when Russell raised his voice at a student in his Grade 8 class after they apologized for having to leave early for a student council meeting. Speaking in front of the whole class, Russell told the student their apology wasn't accepted and that they weren't doing well in school.

The student said the interaction left them embarrassed and fearful of returning to Russell's class.

Russell also made numerous discriminatory comments that fall, according to the teaching commissioner. 

At one point, he told a Grade 9 international student who was resting their head on their desk to "put your head up, this is Canada not the Philippines." Another time, Russell remarked to another international student from Asia that they must be tired "from staying up all night doing karaoke." On a third occasion, Russell told his class that an absent Mexican student was "probably back in Mexico."

In a separate incident, Russell called two female Grade 9 students "darling" and said in front of their classmates that they had "blossomed." Russell told the teaching commissioner that he meant the students had blossomed academically, but the commissioner said that wasn't clear to the class. 

The Vancouver School District met with Russell in May 2022 and told him to be mindful of how he addressed students. They further issued him a letter of discipline in April 2023.

In the consent resolution agreement published this week, Russell admitted to all the facts laid out in it and agreed to complete the course Reinforcing Professional Boundaries through the Justice Institute. 

While no other reports exist of Russell being disciplined by the regulatory college, the teaching commissioner noted that he has been spoken to about similar conduct in the past. 

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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