Once again this year, school boards across the province sent the
College membership fees that they had deducted from the pay of hundreds of
"teachers" who were not registered with the College.
We did not know who they were, had no home addresses, no school
location. They were newly-hired or had returned from leave and no one at the board or
school level asked to see their current Certificate of Qualification.
Principals share with school boards the obligation to ensure that their
teachers are registered with the College, in good standing, and therefore qualified to
teach. Have you checked? Are you aware of your professional obligations under the College
of Teachers Act to ensure that you employ only qualified teachers, and the consequences of
failing to meet them?
A number of these people we call them "payroll
exceptions" had expired certificates. Others had Letters of Eligibility. The
Letter of Eligibility is not a licence to teach and must be converted to a teaching
certificate. We do this very quickly when a school board verifies that a job offer has
Persons who teach while unlicensed are disadvantaged in grid placement
and pension. Please ensure that you hire only when the certification process is complete.
Still others of these unlicensed instructors had certificates from
other provinces and other countries but no Ontario certificate. This province has always
required an Ontario licence. A number of those people had been teaching but cannot qualify
in Ontario until they upgrade their qualifications. A few had come from countries where
secondary "teachers" may teach on the basis of a degree with no teacher
education requirement. It is more than clear from parental complaints that this is not
only unacceptable to the profession in Ontario, but to parents as well.
Have you checked their references? Experience in discipline cases shows
that all too often in the education system, references are not checked. There is more than
one consequence. "Moving on" teachers of dubious competence has been part of our
history. So has "moving on" teachers who have abused students. You will find one
such case written up in this issues Blue Pages.
Even more serious are the cases where school boards have hired teachers
whose certificates were cancelled or revoked for professional misconduct. In one case, the
individual was hired on a full-time basis by two boards in succession. In another, the
person was supply teaching on a regular basis. Reference checks and College register
checks will prevent this, and we will all meet our obligations to the safety as well as
the education of pupils.
Last, but not least, I understand the varying hiring practices of
school boards and that this is a shared responsibility with superintendents and human
resources personnel. Depart-ment heads too, where they survive, have some role to play.
But I focus on the principal, because when something goes wrong it is the school which is
on the front line in managing the difficulty. It is the school council and student council
which will want explanations. It is the principal and the teaching staff who will have to
The moral? Check first. Hire later.