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
Checking Process Helps Protect Profession's Integrity ollege Council
FIFTEEN years, dozens of duped patients and $4.5 million in bilked OHIP fees too late, the judicial system finally caught up with phony physician Stephen Chung in August.
Chung pleaded guilty to uttering a forged diploma and received a conditional 18-month sentence. But that was four years after a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario credentials check of the provinces' 25,000 doctors exposed the fraud.
A similar investigation process by the Ontario College of Teachers' Membership Records Unit plays a huge part in maintaining the standards and credibility of Ontario's teaching profession.
Between January and August 2002, the College processed 7,000 applications for new graduates, 17,008 Ontario transcripts, 3,000 applications from outside the province, and 16,277 recommendations for Additional Qualifications.
A random records audit screens a small but statistically sound sample. Typically, College staff opens and examines the mail and then sends a letter and copy of the document to the originating institution to verify it. If the document is considered fraudulent, the applicant is given 30 days to explain. Failure to explain means the file is closed, at least in the case of those seeking certification.
In the case of College members seeking upgrades or changes in qualifications, attempts to submit false qualifications can lead to eventual revocation of a member's certificate and possible criminal charges.
Inks and Signatures Examined
In cases where a member of the College has forged or fixed qualification documents, the College pursues the fraud to the fullest extent. It recently forwarded two cases to the police in which members falsified documents to improve their status and salary.
One of the most infamous College cases-exposed through credential checking-was that of Robert Richard Haines. In 1999, the College's Discipline Committee found Haines guilty of professional misconduct for submitting faked degrees-a BA, MA and PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles-upon which he built a 27-year teaching career. Haines received salary increases and his principal's qualifications based on the phony qualifications, the College found. As result, his certificates of registration and qualification were revoked.
The challenge comes in uncovering fraud without damaging a person's or the College's reputation.
Although fraud may be uncovered prior to certification, there's nothing to stop that person from applying for a teaching position outside the province. At present, there are no information-sharing mechanisms in Canada among organizations responsible for accrediting teachers.
In Canada, university applicants sign a form agreeing to have their name circulated if they're caught in a fraud. The Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada issues document alerts on a listserv and the information is shared with other Canadian institutions. Those alerts are scanned into the Ontario College of Teachers' system and are triggered when someone applies to become a teacher.
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