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A Burnaby physical education teacher has been suspended for a day after admitting he angrily tossed a dumbbell at a Grade 12 student, that would have struck their face if it hadn’t been caught.

According to a ruling released on Tuesday by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, Lawrence Paul Ryan was teaching a Grade 12 class at a Burnaby secondary school on Feb. 13, 2020 when the incident occurred.

The statement of facts shows that the student had attempted to “toss a dumbbell to a classmate but it fell to the floor instead.”

Ryan then spoke to the student in a loud voice in front of students from four different physical education classes and was perceived by the student to be angry.

The commissioner wrote that Ryan said to the student “what is stupider, throwing a dumbbell across the gym or trying to catch it?”

At that point, the student said that the dumbbell had been dropped by accident.

Ryan then picked up the dumbbell and threw it aggressively and underhand towards the student, saying loudly “do you think this is an accident?”

The dumbbell travelled three feet and if the student had not caught it, they would have been struck in the face. The ruling did not state how heavy the dumbbell was.

The teacher was subsequently reported and on March 3, 2020, the Burnaby School District issued Ryan a letter of discipline that required him to apologize to the student, the student’s parents and all the students that witnessed the event. He was also required to undergo counselling.

The case was then passed up to the commissioner, who drafted an agreement with Ryan that saw him suspended for one day — Feb. 12, 2021 — and admit that he “failed to model appropriate behaviour expected of an educator.

Ryan has been a licensed teacher in B.C. since 1995.


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