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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.

Blurred Boundaries

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 is appropriate and what is not. Details have been altered to respect confidentiality.

The College received a letter of notification from a school board regarding Stephanie, a music teacher. The letter alleged that Stephanie:

  1. made inappropriate use of electronic communication by text messaging with Grade 10 and 11 students;
  2. invited students to her condo for lunch;
  3. discussed details of her personal life with students, including her dating life; and
  4. had an inappropriate personal relationship with a male student.

After the school board’s investigation, Stephanie was suspended for three days and was required to complete a course on boundaries.

Stephanie acknowledged that she gave her phone number to students while on school choir trips. She also acknowledged having students over to her condo for lunch after choir practice. She said that her actions were well-intentioned and that the full context of these events should be considered.

Stephanie denied discussing details of her personal life with students. She also denied that she had an inappropriate relationship with a student and indicated that she had become a friend of the student’s parents.

The board’s investigation revealed that Stephanie went on a trip to British Columbia with the student and his parents. She also went out for a coffee alone with the student and had him over to her condo to fix a plumbing issue.

The parents and their son provided letters supporting Stephanie and did not want any action to be taken against her.

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

The Outcome

The panel decided not to refer the matter to the Discipline Committee, but admonished Stephanie in writing. An admonishment is a way to communicate the concerns of the Investigation Committee that is not disciplinary in nature.

In their decision, the panel members noted that Stephanie and the witnesses agreed that the text messaging occurred and students were invited to her condo for lunch. Panel members also noted that several students said Stephanie disclosed information about her personal life.

Panel members believed that the relationship with the student and his parents, including the trip to British Columbia with them, was inappropriate.

The panel admonished Stephanie to exercise good judgment in all circumstances and to use electronic communication and social media appropriately, as referenced in the College’s professional advisory Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media.

The panel also admonished her to ensure she maintains, at all times, appropriate boundaries and professional relationships within the school community. She was strongly advised to avoid situations that could be interpreted as boundary violations.