Ex-principal loses B.C. teaching licence after misappropriating funds from First Nations school

The former principal of the Coast Tsimshian Academy in Lax Kw'alaams has lost his licence to teach after signing a consent resolution agreement admitting his actions constituted professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming a teacher. (George Baker/CBC - image credit)
The former principal of the Coast Tsimshian Academy in Lax Kw'alaams has lost his licence to teach after signing a consent resolution agreement admitting his actions constituted professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming a teacher. (George Baker/CBC - image credit)

A former principal who lost his job at a small First Nations school in northern B.C. after misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in school funds has had his teaching licence cancelled.

Kelly Joseph Rambeau was fired from the Coast Tsimshian Academy in Lax Kw'alaams, north of Prince Rupert, in 2018 after auditors discovered what the school's board described as "financial irregularities." 

Forensic accountants had discovered that Rambeau improperly reimbursed himself for as much as $337,134 in personal expenses from the school's funds between 2015 and 2018, according to a public notice from the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation posted online Tuesday.

The school alleged in a 2018 lawsuit that Rambeau had used the money to buy real estate and pay the mortgages.

Rambeau has now signed a consent resolution agreement with the commissioner, admitting his actions constitute professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming a teacher, and agreeing to the cancellation of his licence.

"Rambeau's conduct had the potential to undermine the reputation of the profession, including in relation to truth, reconciliation and healing," the public notice says.

The school's lawsuit against Rambeau alleged he had hired a woman to perform administrative duties for the school, and together the pair "conspired to commit acts of fraud and conversion against the academy for their own financial benefit."

The notice of claim goes on to say that Rambeau wrote cheques to himself for unauthorized expenses, non-existent expenses and expenses that had already been reimbursed.

Rambeau initially denied the allegations in his response to the claim, but then settled the lawsuit before it was scheduled to go to trial in the summer of 2022, according to B.C. Supreme Court documents.

In the settlement, he acknowledged his misconduct and apologized.

"I was careless with the school finances and benefited from those reimbursements for personal expenses that I was not entitled to," Rambeau said in court, according to the public notice from the commissioner.

As part of the settlement, Rambeau agreed to repay the school $175,000.