The Students First Act would ensure safety for students and confidence for parents by increasing transparency and accountability in the teacher discipline process.
More transparency with public reporting
The proposed legislation would create a public online and searchable database of Alberta teacher and teacher leader information, bringing Alberta in line with other provinces.
This database would allow parents to view the status of teacher and teacher leaders’ certificates, including if certificates have been suspended or cancelled for unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence. This will balance individual teacher and teacher leaders’ rights to privacy and procedural fairness with the public’s right to know when a teacher or teacher leader has been disciplined for a serious matter.
To ensure students and other staff are protected, this legislation will also require school authorities to conduct criminal record and vulnerable sector checks when hiring a new teacher or teacher leader, and again every five years throughout their employment.
“The vast majority of teachers across Alberta are incredible, hard-working educators who have the best interest of their students at heart. However, when instances of professional misconduct or criminal wrongdoing do arise, they need to be dealt with quickly and transparently. By making disciplinary matters more transparent, we will ensure safety for students, confidence for parents and accountability for teachers.”
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
“As a parent who has witnessed the disciplinary process first-hand, I appreciate the government taking steps to improve the transparency and timeliness of this process. These steps are crucial to improve the safety of students in our schools.”
Todd Snow, concerned parent
“These changes to increase transparency and improve the timeliness of the process are extremely important for victims and their families. Anytime we can re-examine what is being done and how we can do it to better assure the public, we need to take that opportunity. I support this important step taken by the government to do just that and put students and their families first.”
Mary Jane James, executive director, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE)
Improving oversight and timeliness of disciplinary matters
This legislation will also ensure disciplinary matters are responded to in a timely way. If a teacher or teacher leader is convicted of a serious indictable offence under the Criminal Code that threatens student safety and public interest, this legislation would fast track the process to cancel their certificate.
To further increase transparency, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) would be required to inform Alberta Education about all complaints made against its members.
Proposed changes would also improve the efficiency of disciplinary processes by simplifying the ATA’s disciplinary committee structure to align with the structure and processes used by the College of Alberta School Superintendents and Alberta Education’s registrar.
If passed, the Students First Act would:
- Create a public online registry that shares the professional standing of all teachers and teacher leaders who have held a teaching certificate since 1954 and includes disciplinary details for suspended and cancelled certificates dating back to 1990.
- Require school authorities to conduct criminal record and vulnerable sector checks upon employing a teacher or teacher leader, and then every five years onward while employed.
- Reduce the window for judicial review of disciplinary decisions from six months to 60 days to move in line with other provinces.
- Establish an expedited certificate cancellation process for teachers and teacher leaders convicted of a serious indictable offence under the Criminal Code.
- Require the ATA to notify Alberta Education’s registrar at various stages of a complaint process, including when a complaint is filed.
- Streamline multiple ATA disciplinary committees.
- If passed, the Education (Students First) Statutes Amendment Act, 2021 would bring the teaching profession in line with practices in other provinces and professions by amending the Teaching Profession Act, Education Act, and the College of Alberta School Superintendents’ Act.
- An online, searchable registry would align with practices in other Canadian jurisdictions that share similar information about the status of teaching certificates and disciplinary matters. The registry would include a summary of relevant information about the disciplinary matter while protecting the privacy of other individual colleagues and students involved in the situation.
- The registry would be similar to other professions in Alberta such as doctors, lawyers, nurses and engineers.
- Under the Teaching Profession Act, the ATA is responsible for disciplining its active members who have acted unprofessionally or are incompetent in their professional practice.
- Legislation will adjust the ATA’s committee structure from six committees to a general panel from which members can be appointed to hear individual cases. This would consolidate the current six committees to only three, ensuring hearings occur in a reasonable time frame.
- The registrar at Alberta Education will continue to oversee matters of unprofessional conduct and professional incompetence for all other teachers and teacher leaders who are not active members of the ATA or regulated members of CASS.
- Putting Students First
- Students First Act fact sheet (PDF)
- Bill 85: Education Statutes (Students First) Amendment Act, 2021