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Investigation Committee Deals With All Complaints

Professionally Speaking regularly reports on decisions of panels of the Discipline Committee after complaints have been referred to a public hearing. But about four out of five complaints made to the College never reach a disciplinary hearing and are dealt with in other ways.

The Investigation Committee -according to the Ontario College of Teachers Act - must refuse to consider and investigate complaints that do not amount to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity, as well as those considered to be frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process.

The Investigation Committee is one of the College's busiest committees. Last year, more than 190 formal complaints came before the committee; only 41 were referred to hearings. In this issue, we report on three cases that were disposed of by the Investigation Committee. The Ontario College of Teachers Act requires that the names of members involved in these situations remain confidential.

Case 1
A public board notified the College under subsection 47(3) of the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 about the alleged behaviour of one of its more experienced Grade 2 teachers.

A young student in the teacher's class, believed by the teacher to have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), was being regularly disruptive in class and had failed to respond to a variety of techniques to improve the student's classroom behaviour. During an exercise when a group of students were reading aloud in turn, the student kept interrupting and the teacher gave to the student a piece of tape which she suggested he place over his mouth to remind him not to speak out of turn.

On another occasion, after the teacher had told the same student to return to his seat on a number of occasions and he failed to do so, the teacher told the student that she would have to put a seat belt on him if he could not remain in his seat. When the student again left his seat, the teacher took a piece of twine and looped it loosely around his waist to simulate a seat belt.

Both the Children's Aid Society and the police investigated the complaints and concluded that no further action was required.

A panel of the Investigation Committee decided that the matter ought not to be referred for a hearing and accepted the teacher's statement that she recognized that her behaviour modification technique was not effective and that she would not use it again.

Case 2
The father of a three-year-old Junior Kindergarten student complained to the College that the principal of the student's school called the parents after three weeks schooling and stated that she did not think that he was yet ready for school. The father claimed that the member said that the student was immature, had not spoken any English and was following examples of a group of other disruptive students. The principal recommended that the student attend class for one hour a day until such time as he was able to attend for the full morning, which suggestion the parents rejected.

There were further behavioural problems with the student over the following few weeks, with his classroom teacher having to send him to the principal on two occasions. At the suggestion of a board superintendent, the student was transferred into another JK class.

The complainant alleged that the principal had problems in dealing with immigrant students and alleged that racial profiling was the root of the problems involving his child.

A panel of the Investigation Committee decided that the allegations against the member were frivolous and, therefore, refused to consider and investigate the complaint.

Case 3
The Investigation Committee considered a complaint about a member who was criminally charged following physical and verbal assaults on his Grade 4 students, who sustained no injuries therefrom.

A College investigation revealed that a complaint had been made to the police by parents of a student in the member's class, who alleged that the member was shouting at his students and "tapping" them on the head. The police charges were subsequently withdrawn and the member was reassigned to another school by his board, which had conducted its own investigation.

A panel of the Investigation Committee considered the complaint and directed that the member should receive a written caution, in which the member was directed to:

  • refrain from physically touching students except to prevent them harming themselves or others
  • eliminate from his repertoire some histrionic gestures that lend themselves to perceptions that would intimidate some sensitive students, especially the younger grades
  • review his teaching practice, recognizing that expression in physical ways of his intensity for student learning can be misconstrued and detrimental to the learning of particularly sensitive students.
    The member was also cautioned that all interactions with students must be and must appear to be of a professional nature.

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