Keeping students safe: Reforming the disciplinary processPosted on
Students, parents and teachers across the province would benefit from reforms to the discipline process for all teachers and teacher leaders.
If passed, Bill 15, the Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline) Amendment Act, 2022 would create the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission, and appoint an arm’s-length commissioner, to oversee teacher and teacher leader conduct and competency complaints for the profession. This process would apply equally to all teachers and teacher leaders, whether they are members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association or not.
“Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring student safety is at the centre of our disciplinary processes. I want parents and the public to have peace of mind and know that we are improving accountability in the process, enhancing the reputation of the teaching profession and increasing public assurance when it comes to oversight of discipline matters.”
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
“As parents we have been very disappointed in the current ATA disciplinary process. Students, parents and the public need to know we have an advocate separate from the teachers’ union and that our voices will be heard. It is our hope that the creation of an arm’s-length Alberta Teaching Profession Commission signals that students will be at the forefront of the process moving forward and families will not experience the frustration ours has over the last five years. We are pleased to see the current government taking steps to protect vulnerable children by aligning teacher disciplinary processes with other jurisdictions and regulated professions."
Todd and Loni Snow, parents
Creating a new model for teacher and teacher leader discipline overseen by a commissioner would bring Alberta in line with comparable provinces and other regulated professions such as nurses, where an arm’s-length organization oversees disciplinary matters. By aligning Alberta’s processes with those used in other provinces and professions in Canada, parents can be assured the new commission would further protect students and enhance accountability and transparency.
This legislation is the next step that builds on the Students First Act, 2021. The online teacher registry will make publicly available all hearing, appeal and minister decisions where there is a finding of unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence, as well as consent resolution agreements initiated by the Alberta Teaching Profession Commissioner.
The proposed approach would modernize the teacher and teacher leader professional oversight process elevating the status of the teaching profession, while removing any perception of conflict of interest where a union could both advocate for and oversee disciplinary matters for its members. This approach would not affect the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s (ATA) or the College of Alberta School Superintendents’ roles in professional development, or the ATA’s role as it pertains to collective bargaining.
“I applaud the government’s efforts to reform the discipline process used in Alberta schools. Professions and organizations all across North America are modernizing and refining their policies and processes to ensure they are unbiased, support victims and ensure transparency for the public. I’m pleased to see Alberta’s education system doing the same.”
Sheldon Kennedy, co-founder, Respect Group Inc.
“Placing students as the first priority in the education system and promoting the public interest in this regard are essential values to uphold for regulated members within the College of Alberta School Superintendents. Therefore, CASS supports aligning conduct and competence discipline processes for all teachers, principals, and system leaders in our province. CASS believes that strengthening an overall duty to report within legislation and the establishment of consistent processes will only enhance public assurance and student safety.”
Wilco Tymensen, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents
“AISCA and our members support a discipline process that provides assurance to the public and due process to teachers and teacher leaders. Our association looks forward to working with government in adjusting the teacher discipline model to further enhance public confidence and transparency in the process. We will continue to provide input to the Government of Alberta as details of the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission are finalized.”
Simon Williams, president, Association of Independent Schools and Colleges of Alberta (AISCA)
“The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools supports the government’s efforts to modernize the discipline process for the teaching profession in Alberta. We appreciate that charter school teachers and educational leaders will be part of one united set of processes, overseen by the newly created Alberta Teaching Profession Commission. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Government of Alberta as details of this new approach are finalized.”
Ron Koper, chair, The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools (TAAPCS)
“Given the high prevalence of sexual violence in Alberta across the lifespan and the very low reporting rate of this crime, particularly among children and youth, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services supports efforts to streamline professional regulation, transparency and accountability utilizing an external review process for all professionals who are in positions of power and authority across all of our institutions and systems.”
Debra Tomlinson, chief executive officer, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services
If passed, the Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline Act would:
- Create an Office of the Commissioner to give the commissioner authority to oversee a significant part of the process for complaints of alleged unprofessional conduct and professional incompetence made against any Alberta certificated teacher or teacher leader.
- Lead to greater accountability, public assurance, and consistency in addressing complaints under one legislated governance structure by the commissioner’s office.
- Make the registrar, who is already established and operating within Alberta Education, responsible for the intake of all complaints.
- The Alberta Teaching Profession Commissioner would have the authority to address and investigate a complaint and determine the most appropriate course of action to take regarding a complaint.
- Enhance the teacher and teacher leader registry, starting in September 2022 when the registry is launched, to include consent resolution agreements and all decisions where there is a finding of unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence.
- Combine the effectiveness of the Commissioner model in British Columbia and some arm’s-length features of Saskatchewan’s Teacher Regulatory Board such as posting upcoming hearing dates to ensure greater transparency.
- Set out in regulation processes related to how current complaints will be transitioned from the ATA and the registrar’s office to the commissioner ensuring procedural fairness in completing these matters.
- Reinforce requirements for stakeholders in the education system such as the registrar, commissioner, ATA, CASS and employers to report to police where there may have been serious harm or a threat to student safety.
- Alberta currently uses a dual-system model to address complaints of alleged unprofessional conduct and professional incompetence for certificated teachers and teacher leaders.
- Alberta is the only Canadian province where the teachers’ union has the sole responsibility for overseeing complaints of alleged unprofessional conduct and professional incompetence filed against their union members that question a teacher’s suitability to hold a teaching certificate.
- The ATA is responsible for overseeing complaints made against its active members and the registrar at Alberta Education is responsible for non-ATA teachers and teacher leaders.
- The ATA serves as the collective bargaining agent for teachers and some teacher leaders (principals), while it also oversees the disciplinary process for its members.
- Improving teacher discipline
- Bill 15: Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline) Act
- Education Statutes (Students First) Amendment Act, 2021 (Unproclaimed Sections Only)