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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

Student Safety

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.

During the summer of 2014, school board officials reported to the College that they were conducting an investigation about a Special Education teacher. Allegations included risking student safety and tardiness.

In February 2014, the teacher was assigned to teach a Grade 3 class because his class was away on a school trip. The classroom was in a portable in the schoolyard. At some point during the class, a female student unknowingly placed the leg of her chair on a student’s foot and sat down, causing the student considerable pain. The injured student lay down and began yelling profanities.

The class was disrupted as other students began to focus on the incident. As a third student tried to get the attention of the female student, the teacher attempted to manage the situation by asking this third student to step outside.

A few minutes later, the school principal noticed that a male student was outside, without a winter coat on. The principal expressed his concerns to the teacher about not supervising the student.

The teacher explained that he asked the student to step outside in order to de-escalate the situation. He said that the student had been outside for about 30 seconds and that it was an unusually warm day so he was not overly concerned that he did not have his coat on.

The school board also reported that the teacher had been late for work on numerous occasions. One time he arrived 45 minutes late at the beginning of the day. The principal advised the teacher that students were not being supervised and that it affected student safety, particularly as they were students with special education needs.

The teacher was offered strategies to help him get to work on time, but he refused help.

The teacher acknowledged that he was late a number of times. He recalled two or three instances within a three-month period where he was a couple of minutes late and admitted that it was inappropriate. He also said that there were only two instances, during the same week, when he arrived later than usual because of a plumbing problem in his house. In both instances, he informed the school that he would be late.

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

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

The Outcome

The Investigation Committee decided to admonish the member in writing for the conduct alleged in the complaint.

An admonishment is a measure that is meant to communicate the concerns of the Investigation Committee and is not disciplinary in nature.

The committee had concerns about the allegations against the teacher. In its decision, the committee said that although the teacher indicated that the student was under his supervision at all times, information provided by the principal indicated that the teacher was not aware of what the student was doing.

The committee noted that the student was not appropriately dressed for the winter weather.

The panel also said that the student should have been supervised at all times and that alternative ways of managing the situation should have been used. The panel also noted that the teacher had confirmed he had been late a number of times during the school year.

The committee admonished the teacher to ensure that his conduct is consistent with the standards of the profession and to use appropriate classroom management techniques and disciplinary methods to safeguard the health and safety of students.