Billings Public Schools may fire a teacher accused of sexual misconduct who remained in the classroom for almost two decades despite a long history of red flags, according to district documents.
Glenn Kanvick began as a teacher at the Career Center in the mid-1980s after previously working as parking attendant and custodian, and most recently as a permanent substitute teacher.
Kanvick, in a brief phone interview, said the district’s allegations are false.
SD2 scheduled a school board hearing for Kanvick, as firing a tenured teacher requires trustee approval. The meeting was canceled, but the agenda includes public documents detailing the district’s accusations against Kanvick.
“I am beyond words at the inappropriate level of Mr. Kanvick’s conduct,” said SD2 superintendent Terry Bouck in a letter to trustees. “He has a pattern of tormenting children, and I cannot in good faith have him in our schools.”
It's unclear when the meeting will be rescheduled. Bouck said Tuesday that it was canceled at Kanvick's request, while Kanvick said that he did not request a cancellation and that he plans on having union representation at the hearing.
Kanvick’s troubled record reaches back to 1999 with concerns on evaluations about his basic teaching skills. He received his first letter of reprimand in 2008, and then-superintendent Jack Copps suspended him for two days in 2009 relating to insubordination and then returned him to the classroom.
Keith Beeman, superintendent from May 2010 to September 2011, also scrutinized Kanvick, although again he remained in the classroom.
Kanvick was reassigned as a permanent roving substitute teacher around the end of Copps' second superintendent stint. He remained in the classroom and stayed there for most of Bouck’s tenure, which began in 2012.
It wasn't until allegations of inappropriate sexual comments that SD2 prevented him from working with kids.
'No one's going to believe you'
On Tuesday, Bouck declined to discuss specifics of Kanvick's case ahead of the hearing. But documents spell out the district's case.
A school resource officer at a middle school received a complaint about “two instances of inappropriate behavior by Mr. Kanvick toward female students” while working as a substitute teacher. Kanvick was placed on paid leave May 9 and remains off the job.
The district hired an outside investigator, who found several instances of sexually inappropriate behavior that were confirmed in interviews with targeted students and witnesses, according to district documents.
Among the allegations:
- Kanvick approached a female middle school student reading in the library who was wearing jeans with rips in the upper thigh and made a sexual reference about what could happen to her. When that student replied “excuse you?” and “sorry you don’t like my fashion,” Kanvick told the student, “I can see your boobs, zip up your jacket.” Kanvick threatened to write the student up for her response.
- Another student reported feeling uncomfortable when Kanvick talked to her at her locker. The student said she asked Kanvick to leave her alone three times and he refused. The student was not in Kanvick’s classes, and the district’s letter says he “had no reason to approach her."
- Earlier this school year, Kanvick tapped a student on top of the head with a folder. The student who reported Kanvick approaching her saw the incident and “stated that was abuse. Kanvick told her “abuse … you don’t know what abuse is,” and winked at her. When the student questioned his wink, Kanvick told her to stop talking, and the student “was shortly thereafter sent to detention.”
Another student reported that Kanvick’s chest touched her back when he leaned over her should to check her work and he put his hand on her shoulder, making her uncomfortable.
The report also cites multiple other instances of students reporting that Kanvick used grades and discipline to bully them, including two students who “refuse to have Mr. Kanvick be their substitute based on past experiences, and even go so far as to immediately place themselves in detention upon seeing Mr. Kanvick in the room.”
One class reported that after threatening to complain about Kanvick, he told the class, “you guys are just kids, no one’s going to believe you.”
Kanvick was on SD2’s radar long before the most recent accusations, but he remained in the classroom for almost two decades. The letter from Bouck to trustees urging them to fire Kanvick details the district's case:
Kanvick received a troubling review from the Career Center principal in 1999, where he taught automotive courses. The evaluation “called into question his teacher/student relationships, management of student behavior, and interpersonal relationships.” The district says Kanvick was “given guidance” to remedy his shortcomings, but another review in 2000 showed similar problems.
A new principal evaluated Kanvick in 2001 and “found most areas satisfactory” but made recommendations for improving his teaching of students with learning disabilities. A 2002 review cited “his inability to deal with behavioral issues” and says Kanvick received guidance on classroom management.
That principal’s concerns escalated during the years, including safety in addition to classroom management. In 2008, Kanvick received a letter of reprimand for failing to attend three consecutive departmental meetings “despite several discussions regarding the need to do so in order to ensure student safety.”
Kanvick complained the letter created a hostile work environment and was retaliatory.
“At this time Mr. Kanvick began what has been a long and true road of blame, diversion and lack of responsibility when confronted with his shortcomings as a teacher and employee,” Bouck wrote.
Kanvick received a second letter of reprimand that year, with the district citing an escalation of “troubling behaviors,” including Kanvick “upsetting a student to the point of tears.”
In 2009, a colleague said they saw Kanvick “intimidating, bullying, antagonizing and provoking” a student in class. In response, “several conversations were had with Mr. Kanvick at the time regarding proper and improper interactions with students.”
He was placed on an official plan of improvement that year, but his teaching didn’t improve; ultimately Copps put Kanvick on two days of unpaid leave, and Kanvick was on another improvement plan that fall.
In 2011, Beeman and SD2's then-executive director of human resources Dan Martin “were in discussions regarding Mr. Kanvick’s future.” But trustees cut Beeman loose that September and Martin retired before the 2011-12 school year. The letter says “Mr. Kanvick’s future was uncertain.”
The letter also says that Kanvick was “removed from the classroom,” but actually was exposed to more students than ever as the permanent sub. He was assigned as a “roving substitute” as “an opportunity to learn from colleagues and to improve his skills,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to say that “for the first few years, it appeared that Mr. Kanvick’s placement worked,” as few complaints were received about him. This coincides with when Bouck took over the district in 2012, as does the period when “as time went on, many of Mr. Kanvick’s earlier behaviors began to reappear.”
Kanvick was pulled from a job as a driver’s education instructor in October because of “safety and propriety concerns.”
Then the sexually-themed complaints surfaced and Bouck commissioned an investigation.
Those results tally up at least 11 students who were “negatively affected,” including at least two instances of “inappropriate sexual innuendo” and students who said Kanvick belittled and threatened them — and the investigation looked only at one school.
“Without the ability to investigate a specific incident or question students in other schools due to confidentiality, a concern exists regarding the total number of students affected by Mr. Kanvick’s behavior throughout the district,” the report concludes.
The report says that at least five teachers had asked that Kanvick not be allowed to sub in their classrooms. It also notes that teachers requested Kanvick, saying "he makes students do their work and isn't afraid to write a student up."
Kanvick initially met with the investigator, but did not meet with the investigator for a scheduled follow-up to discuss the report’s findings. He had union representation at the first meeting, and a union rep attended the second.
Kanvick has held a Class 4 teacher license, which is specific to career and technical education, since 1994. The variation that was approved in 1996 requires him to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree along with about 5 years of industry experience. He has listed industry endorsements in industrial mechanics, welding, electronics, automotive technology and traffic education.