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. The committee dealt with the following case during the 2015/16 school year.
On occasion, teachers may find it difficult to treat students with dignity and respect, particularly when the student behaviour or context of the situation is some distance from dignified. Despite this, teachers are obligated by the Code of Professional Conduct to act appropriately at all times.
During the current school year, a teacher encountered in the hallway a male high school student wearing a feminine wig as a consequence of the student having lost a bet. The teacher reported the situation to the school administration, which culminated in a confrontation between the teacher and the student. The confrontation escalated to the point that the teacher and student were yelling at one another, and there was use of profanity. This event caused substantial disruption, requiring another staff member to intervene.
The Professional Conduct Committee ordered a penalty of a severe letter of reprimand. In its reasons, the committee noted that society expects teachers to exercise judicious and reasonable judgment in dealing with undesirable student behaviour. ❚
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