Over the past few days, considerable media attention has been directed at the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s handling of teacher unprofessional conduct. Limited time and space in media channels have not allowed for a discussion that accurately captures the complexity of the issue.
The media attention began when Minister of Education Jeff Johnson produced for media the findings of four hearings of the Association’s Professional Conduct Committee. The minister highlighted how he had overturned the recommendations of the hearing committees in order to cancel the teaching certificates of the disciplined teachers.
The minister is irresponsibly trying to undermine public confidence in the discipline process and attempting to portray the Association as protective of teachers who engage in sexual acts with students. Others, including at least one Progressive Conservative MLA, have been amplifying these comments in an all-out effort to undermine confidence in the Association.
This update is intended to make teachers aware of the Association’s position on a number of the issues being discussed:
The Association has no tolerance for unprofessional conduct and works diligently to ensure that teachers who engage in sexual relations with students never teach again.
The Association has the most stringent suspension conditions of any profession. Teachers who are suspended for misconduct effectively lose their ability to teach, indefinitely.
To be granted membership in the Association again, a teacher who has been suspended must apply to the Association. Only once in 78 years has such an application been successful, and that involved a nonsexual matter.
In the Chilton case, in which a teacher had sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old student from her school, the Association appealed the original finding of the hearing committee and obtained a suspension that was double the length. The Association had no other avenues to adjust the sentence. The Association was able to suspend that teacher from membership even though there was no criminal wrongdoing.
While the minister of education has focused on four of the fourteen cases he reviewed, he has been silent on the eight cases in which the hearing committee recommended that the teacher’s certificate be cancelled.
In a recent case (Mastel), the Association expelled a teacher from membership when the criminal justice system was unable to obtain a conviction.
For further information on the Association’s discipline process, visit www.teachers.ab.ca and click on Upholding Professional Standards (under About the ATA).
This article was taken in it's entirety from the Alberta Teachers' Association Website On May 30, 2014 at 9:30am: http://www.teachers.ab.ca/News%20Room/WebExtras/Pages/Members-Update-Discipline.aspx