The College investigates and considers complaints about members that relate to alleged professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. If the Investigation Committee concludes that a complaint does not relate to one of those three matters or is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process, it does not proceed with the complaint.
Approximately four out of five complaints are not referred to the Discipline Committee but are dismissed or resolved by other means. Here are some examples of cases considered by the Investigation Committee and not referred to a hearing.
Complaint: Verbal, emotional and psychological abuse of a Grade 7 student
Parents of a Grade 7 student complained that their child's teacher verbally, emotionally and psychologically abused the child. The parents said that the teacher failed to return project work, berated and made disparaging remarks to the student, failed to apologize for yelling, made fun of the student, assigned too much homework, changed the length of presentation time without notice, administered tests on topics not covered, changed the value of assignments, marked the student's work incorrectly, assigned low marks to the student and/or marked only a portion of the assignments.
The parents had been unsuccessful in resolving their concerns at the school and board levels to their satisfaction.
A panel of the Investigation Committee decided that the parents had not provided any information in respect to the allegations of berating, making fun of the student or making disparaging remarks and that the remainder of the allegations did not amount to professional misconduct or incompetence.
Complaint: Bending a student's arm
A Grade 3 student's parent made a complaint that the student's teacher bent the child's arm behind the child's back in an effort to discipline the student or, as the member described it, while attempting to direct a student to a particular area within the classroom. Although police and the Children's Aid Society were notified, no criminal charges were laid.
The Investigation Committee panel reviewing the complaint decided that the member should be cautioned because, in the panel's opinion, interaction with or discipline of any student should never involve physical contact.
Complaint: Verbal abuse of a parent by use of profanity
The mother of a Grade 3 student wrote to the College to complain that the vice-principal at her child's school had used profanity in a telephone discussion with her husband.
The parent claimed that the child had been inappropriately labelled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by the staff at the school and that, as a result, the child was singled out for discipline. The parents refused to meet with the board's Child and Youth Worker because they did not believe their child had ADHD. The complainant alleged that as a result of the parents' refusal, staff had become "progressively insistent, hostile and unwilling to work" with their child.
After the parents had left several messages for the administration, the vice-principal called them and spoke with the complainant's spouse. The vice-principal agreed that during the conversation he made an inappropriate comment. The vice-principal immediately advised his superintendent, called and apologized to the complainant and wrote a letter of apology to the complainant's spouse.
A panel of the Investigation Committee reviewed the complaint and decided that, while the member's conduct was inappropriate, it was not professional misconduct and the member had taken appropriate steps by apologizing. No further action was taken.
Complaint: Failure of principal to investigate physical abuse of student
The parent of a Grade 4 student alleged that the principal of the child's school had failed to take appropriate action to investigate complaints of physical abuse of the child by a playground monitor at the school. The playground monitor, a paid adult employee of the board, was alleged to have grabbed the child by the face and arm when the child entered the off-limits primary side of the playground to assist a younger friend who had fallen.
The parent complained to the principal, who met with the student and the playground monitor. When asked what had occurred, the student told the principal that the student did not remember. The parent said that instead of reprimanding the playground monitor, the principal "verbally disciplined" the student for being on the wrong side of the playground.
The parent complained to the director of education and to the police, who involved the Children's Aid Society. No charges were laid.
Glossary of terminology
The vocabulary used to report disciplinary hearings reflects their quasi-judicial nature. If you wonder what some terms mean, help is at hand.
For past and future reference, the College has posted a glossary of terms on its web site. A link to the glossary can be found on the decision-summary page.
Professionally Speaking reported the first College disciplinary hearings in the Blue Pages of its June 1998 edition. Summaries are also posted on the College web site.