Q & A: All teachers are subject to professional discipline

September 26, 2017
Gordon Thomas, ATA Executive Secretary

Question: Why are public and separate school teachers subject to professional discipline but not superintendents or teachers in private and charter schools? This is unfair and not equitable. All teachers should adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct.

Answer: All those who hold a teaching certificate are subject to discipline for their conduct. Teachers who are employed by public and separate school boards, other than as the superintendent of schools or the superintendent’s chief deputy, are required by law to be active members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Active members must adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct (which is approved by the Annual Representative Assembly). The discipline process for these teachers is outlined in the Teaching Profession Act. Any person can make a complaint to the ATA’s executive secretary, who is required to initiate an investigation. If there is sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing, a hearing is ordered, and the ATA presents the evidence to the hearing committee.

There is also a discipline process for teachers who are not covered by the Teaching Profession Act, such as those in band, private or charter schools; superintendents; university professors; department staff; and unemployed teachers. Such teachers are not subject to professional discipline by the ATA, but are instead subject to the discipline process defined in the Practice Review of Teachers Regulation. Schedule A of the regulation details the required conduct standards, which are very similar in nature to the expectations set out in the ATA’s Code of Professional Conduct.

Anyone with concerns about the conduct of a teacher who is subject to this regulation can make a complaint to the registrar (the person appointed by the minister of education to issue teaching certificates), who is required to consider the complaint. In most instances, an investigation is ordered. If there is sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing, a hearing is ordered, and the registrar presents the evidence to the hearing committee.

To be clear, all certificate holders are subject to discipline. A superintendent who engages in unprofessional conduct will effectively face the same discipline process as a classroom teacher, and the conduct standards are the same. The complaint is received by the registrar, who handles the matter in a similar way as the ATA. ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (gordon.thomas@ata.ab.ca).