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 between January and April of 2016.
A teacher in a leadership role obtained a school credit card for authorized uses, and then proceeded to make purchases for her own personal use. When the billing irregularities were noted, the teacher misled school administration regarding the purchases in question. The school division conducted an audit that brought to light additional instances of inappropriate use of school funds by this teacher.
The teacher resigned from her position, and provided full restitution of the funds. She was charged under the Criminal Code of Canada and was imprisoned in the community for a period of 15 months. The hearing committee declared the teacher ineligible for membership in the Alberta Teachers’ Association for a period of two years, and made a recommendation to the minister of education that the teacher’s teaching certificate be suspended for two years.
Membership is not automatically reinstated after a term of ineligibility. The Association’s bylaw 91 outlines the process by which a member can apply to have their membership reinstated. Teachers who are ineligible to hold membership in the Association are unable to work in public, separate and francophone schools in Alberta.
In its decision, the Professional Conduct Committee noted that the teacher had violated the trust and authority vested in her as a teacher and as a leader in the school community. By defrauding the school of money intended to support teaching and learning, this teacher put the satisfaction of her own greed before the welfare of the school and students, an act that did not uphold the honour and dignity of the profession. The committee considered that the teacher had made restitution. ❚
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