Ontario teachers college raises concerns over bill to protect students

November 8, 2016
Article Source
Toronto Star

A proposed bill to protect Ontario students is "flawed" and could see educators found guilty of serious misconduct remain on the job for months during an appeal, and also lead to hundreds of disciplinary decisions removed from public view, says the governing body for the province's teachers.

"When we saw the bill and noticed a few discrepancies, we met with the minister's staff to draw their attention (to the issues) and hoped it would be modified," Michael Salvatori, CEO and registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers, said in an interview after releasing an open letter to the education minister.

However, he added, little was changed. "This is perplexing for us."

Bill 37, the Protecting Students Act, enforces stricter rules when it comes to abusive situations, automatically revoking a teacher's certificate in cases of sexual abuse or child pornography charges, and forces all disciplinary decisions to be made publicly available.

On Thursday, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter told reporters at Queen's Park that the bill, which she recently reintroduced, "is about ensuring that we have a fair and efficient and transparent process."

The bill arose from a 2012 report by retired justice Patrick LeSage after a Toronto Star series questioned the college's secretive rulings and disciplinary processes.

". . . We’ve actually followed very, very closely former chief justice Patrick LeSage's recommendations and have put those into place," Hunter said. "We've had input from all sides of this issue, ensuring that we have a bill that responds to the fairness as well as the transparency that was very clear" in his report.

The bill, as it now stands, would remove 376 of 834 disciplinary decisions now available online within the next three years, the college said in its letter.

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