Pitfalls and Precautions is a series that aims to educate teachers on professional conduct issues by highlighting situations addressed by the ATA Professional Conduct Committee.
Concerns with a colleague? The parking lot or your classroom is not a place to raise the issue, especially when your colleague is not present and instead you are venting to other colleagues or staff members. Teachers have an obligation under the Code of Professional Conduct to raise concerns with their colleagues first before going to proper officials.
A teacher found themselves in front of a hearing committee of the professional conduct committee for failure to observe these two sections of the code. Instead of going to their colleagues first, this teacher chose to speak with a central office staff member about several of their school leaders, past and present, before raising their concerns with the individual teachers. The teacher made allegations that were critical of many administrators and their competence to act in a leadership role.
The teacher again behaved poorly when they sent emails to other teachers and support staff in which they were critical as to how their principal both managed and operated the school. They also went so far as to canvas other teachers to bring forward any complaints or concerns they had about their principal.
As a result of their actions, the teacher received a letter of severe reprimand from the Alberta Teachers’ Association. While some may say that it’s “just a letter,” keep in mind that if a teacher applies to work for another school division, employers will ask on their application form whether they have ever been found guilty of unprofessional conduct.
The hearing decision is also sent to the registrar, so even moving out of province will not protect a teacher from having to disclose their sanction from the Association, as other jurisdictions will check with the registrar in Alberta prior to granting certification in that province.
Teachers have a responsibility under the code to raise their concerns with their colleagues first before bringing their concerns forward to the proper officials. In this case, the teacher failed to honour the code. ❚
Code of professional conduct
The teacher criticizes the professional competence or professional reputation of another teacher only in confidence to proper officials and after the other teacher has been informed of the criticism, subject only to section 24 of the Teaching Profession Act.
The teacher, when making a report on the professional performance of another teacher, does so in good faith and, prior to submitting the report, provides the teacher with a copy of the report, subject only to section 24 of the Teaching Profession Act.