Education Minister and MLA for Red Deer North is looking to pass Bill 15 the Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline Amendment Act). The act would 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.”
The Bill would prevent the Alberta Teachers' Association from disciplining its own members.
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.
The Education Minister said she had completed extensive research for the creation of this new bill by consulting several people and organizations affected by it.
“I directed my department to review the process, which included engagement with education stakeholders including the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) and College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS), Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) as well organizations such as RESPECT Group, the Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Services and the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. I also heard directly from teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, and current and former students.
Overwhelmingly, I heard that it was time to change and time to modernize this 85-year- old process in Alberta,” said La Grange.
She says most teachers, and teacher leaders will never experience the discipline process but students will benefit from the additional security if the bill is passed.
“Mandating school authorities to require criminal record and vulnerable sector checks for teachers and teacher leaders is not a political distraction; and fast-tracking the cancellation of teaching certificates of those convicted of a serious indictable offence, such as child sexual abuse under the Criminal Code is absolutely in the best interest of students,” said La Grange.
However, critics are saying the Bill is punishment for challenging the proposed new K to 6 curriculum.