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Coquitlam-area teacher punished after kids scared by live python

A teacher's post-apocalyptic Halloween costume may have gone too far when he brought his three-foot snake to school in a pouch around his waist.
Snake school teacher discipline - Getty Images
Detail and close up of ball python or royal python - Python regius photographed in studio location.

A Tri-Cities middle school teacher lost two days pay in disciplinary proceedings after he went too far with his Halloween costume.

In facts presented in a Consent Resolution Agreement published by B.C.'s Teacher Regulation Branch, the teacher erred when he brought a live three-foot ball python to school as part of his "post-apocalyptic" outfit.

Without informing administration or parents, Arthur Owen Sanderson brought his snake to school and kept it in a pouch at his waist.

During Halloween celebrations at his school on Oct. 29, 2021, Sanderson visited at least five different classes before 1:30 p.m. that day to show people the snake — and even brought it to the the staff room.

However, his show and tell didn't go as well as he might have intended.

One student reported being afraid of snakes and cried when they saw the python; another student volunteered to wear the snake around their neck, thinking it was "a prop," the discipline report states. 

When the snake began to "slither around," the student grew alarmed.

In another incident, Sanderson was in the school office and unzipped his pouch, motioning to a colleague that she should put her hand into it.

Then he guided her hand into the pouch without telling her what was inside.

According to the discipline report, the colleague was "unsure what she was touching, and removed her hand."

When Sanderson removed the snake, "it stuck out its tongue," at which point the colleague "ran away," the report states.

"Sanderson did not provide verbal instruction to students on how to handle the snake. Rather he attempted to model how the snake should be handled," the report states.

On Jan. 5, 2022, School District 43 (SD43) issued Sanderson a letter of discipline and suspended him for two days without pay, which took place Jan. 6, and Jan. 7.

The case was subsequently referred to the commissioner of the teacher regulation branch and a consent resolution agreement was reached with Sanderson, in accordance with section 53(1) (a) of the Teachers Act.

In its reprimand, the commissioner considered that Sanderson "failed to model respectful behaviour expected of an educator and his conduct undermined the learning environment."

The consent agreement was signed June 30, 2022.