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Governing Ourselves

Governing Ourselves informs members of legal and regulatory matters affecting the profession. This section provides updates on licensing and qualification requirements, notification of Council resolutions and reports from various Council committees, including reports on accreditation and discipline matters.

Investigation Committee Case Study

A Perceived Threat

The College’s Investigation Committee considers all complaints made to the College about its members and reviews all information resulting from investigations. The committee can dismiss a complaint or refer the matter, in whole or in part, to the Discipline or Fitness to Practise committees for a hearing.

The Investigation Committee may also caution or admonish the member in writing or in person, or provide written reminders or advice or ratify a Memorandum of Agreement reached through the complaint resolution process.

By law, cases under investigation are confidential. For the education of members, the following account, based on facts from real cases, raises important questions about teacher conduct such as what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Details have been altered to respect confidentiality.

In the fall of 2013, a parent of a female student complained to the College alleging that a member sent text messages that threatened her daughter’s employment in a local restaurant.

The member in question was working as a server at the same restaurant where a number of students from the same school were also working, including the female student.

Before the students were hired, the restaurant’s manager asked the member — who worked at the same school as the students but was not their teacher — if she had any concerns about working with the students. The teacher said she did not, as long as they kept a separation between work and school. She said she reiterated those sentiments to the students. Everyone agreed.

The member said there were no issues at school or in the workplace until one day, in the spring of 2013, when two of these students, who had previously been friends, became estranged over a dispute. These two students insisted they did not want to work with each other. According to the member, both students were angry and looked to her to assist in resolving the dispute. She said that she attempted to set up a meeting to resolve the matter.

The member ordered the students to come to a meeting at the school. She made this order during a school day via a text message to the female student. The member also advised the student that her job would be in jeopardy if the students could not resolve their dispute.

The member said there was no intention to threaten her. She subsequently advised the restaurant’s manager of the conflict, and the employment of the female student and another student was terminated by the manager.

The member was given a letter of expectation from the school board requiring her to not engage in text or virtual conversation with students regarding matters not related to school without the consent of parents or guardians. She has had no contact with the students since.

The Investigation Committee reviewed the submissions of the parties and all relevant information including letters, emails and text messages.

If you were a member of the Investigation Committee, what would you do?

The Outcome

The Investigation Committee decided to caution the member in writing against the conduct alleged in the complaint.

The committee agreed that the text messages sent by the member appeared to be threatening the female student’s employment. This caused serious concerns for the committee members. The member was cautioned to exercise good judgment in all circumstances, and to maintain appropriate teacher/student boundaries at all times.