College Council Election to Be Conducted Electronically | Call for Nominations | New Council Members | Interest Grows for Teacher Job Fair | Bernard Adam Apppointed Chair of Discipline Committee | College Issues First Professional Advisory | Credentials Checking Process Helps Protect Profession's Integrity | Providers' Area Up and Running | Individual Learning Options Broaden PLP Credit Possibilities | Teach Ontario Site Makes Finding and Filling Teaching Jobs Easier | Teachers Holding Permanent Letters of Standing Urged to Join the College | 2003 Budget Approved with Fee Increase Offsets PLP Costs | Dispute Resolution Program Reports | Discipline Panel Decisions

Information Sessions Bring Professional Advisory to Life

The College undertook a provincial tour of 15 cities across Ontario in October and November to get the message out to educators and the public about its first professional advisory. The College's 187,000 members can also find a copy of the advisory in this issue of Professionally Speaking and on the College web site at
College officials visited Toronto, Sudbury, Sault St. Marie, Timmins, Barrie, Thunder Bay, Kenora, Kingston, Ottawa, Oakville, St. Catharines, Oshawa, Windsor, London and Kitchener to meet with school board officials, federation representatives, College members, community child care providers, Children's Aid officials and the media who had a chance to hear presentations, review the advisory and ask questions.
Meetings with editorial board directors at several of the newspapers were arranged to coincide with the October-November tour. As well, College staff met with school boards representatives to facilitate distribution of the advisory.

College Issues First Professional Advisory

Professional advisories will provide guidance to College members in understanding complex issues that are important to the profession of teaching.

THE College launched its first professional advisory for members in early October. Entitled Professional Misconduct Related to Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct, the advisory defines clearly what constitutes sexual abuse and guides College members in identifying the legal, ethical and professional parameters that govern their behaviour towards their students.

"The teaching profession is united in its demands for clarity on the issue and unanimous in its desire to safeguard the students in teachers' care," says College Registrar Joe Atkinson. "This is an important, timely document, one that addresses a societal problem while validating the care, good judgement and professionalism demonstrated by the overwhelming majority of educators in classrooms all over Ontario every day."

Robins Report
The College Council developed the advisory following the publication of the Robins Report-Protecting Our Students. The report led to the adoption of the Student Protection Act by the Ontario government, which came into force September 3.

The professional advisory describes what may constitute sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual relationships in light of the Student Protection Act, the Ontario College of Teachers Act and the College's Professional Misconduct Regulation. It also provides examples of situations that teachers should avoid or consider carefully.

"There are a number of issues about which members of the teaching profession have indicated they would like their College to provide guidance," said Atkinson. "We were able to develop this advisory because there is such unanimity within the profession on this issue. This type of conduct is just unacceptable to teachers."

The College will also take the opportunity to provide teachers, administrators and the public with information about the provisions of the Student Protection Act and their responsibilities under it.

Reporting Requirements
The act strengthens reporting requirements between the College and employers to prevent teachers, who have been disciplined for, charged with or convicted of a sexual offence involving minors, from moving from board to board or school to school.

The advisory is an important resource to teachers by defining terminology and elaborating on member and school board responsibilities. It builds on the Standards of Practice of the Teaching Profession and Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession which together define what it means to be a teacher in Ontario. As well, it represents College policy and becomes part of the profession's overall regulatory framework.

It applies to all College members, including teachers, vice-principals, principals, supervisory officers, directors and those in non-school board positions such as education officers with the Ministry of Education.
At its core, the advisory reminds members that they are responsible for their own professional conduct.

"Clear understanding of a member's responsibilities is the precursor to correct action," says College Council chair Larry Capstick. "The vast majority of our members would never countenance abusive behaviour and would want to take any action to prevent it. Good teachers look to the College to be tough on abusers."

Other Professions
The advisory is new for Ontario's teaching profession, but it follows a tried-and-true method of communication among the province's regulatory bodies. First and foremost, advisories support members and protect the public interest by providing advice, guidance and clarification on professional issues.

Ontario's nurses, doctors, accountants, lawyers and other professionals have long histories of providing specific-issue counsel to their members.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, enacted by legislature in 1883, has more than 40 rules of professional conduct "and a council interpretation for almost every one," says vice-president and registrar Tom Warner.

The 140,000-member College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) has issued roughly 40 Standards of Practice in its 40-year history. The standards set out the expectations for nurses' conduct and practice and include as their major components professional standards, practice expectations and legislation and regulations. They are Council-approved and become general practice expectations, part of the recognized policy affecting and influencing the nursing profession, says CNO's Communications manager Cindy Campbell.

The College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario issues Position Statements to interpret legislation and regulations, says Barbara Meissner Fishbein, director of Professional Practice. The statements provide "ongoing practice advice" and are part of the college's policy.

Lawyers are governed by The Law Society of Upper Canada's 16 rules of practice and procedure, six rules of professional conduct-including one on sexual harassment-and a series of practice management guidelines that serve as a framework for conducting various aspects of legal work.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issues policy statements to cover such issues as advertising by doctors, relations with drug companies and avoiding complaints of sexual abuse. The CPSO posts the statements on its web site and includes them as special inserts in its official publication, Members' Dialogue.

Canadian jurisprudence also recognizes the legal basis for a professional advisory issued by a regulatory body.

Few Incidences
Justice Robins noted in his report that incidences of sexual misconduct and abuse of students are relatively few, but they do occur. Since April 1998, the Ontario College of Teachers has completed 110 hearings into charges of professional misconduct. Of those, 61 cases entailed some form of sexual involvement with students. Ten more involved members accused of sexual involvement with students who were not their own. As a result, 49 people had their teaching certificates revoked.

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