Alberta government proposes bill to overhaul, publicize teacher discipline and decisions

Alberta government proposes bill to overhaul, publicize teacher discipline  and decisions |

Alberta is proposing legislation to make public the names and case details of teachers disciplined for unprofessional conduct or incompetence.

The bill introduced by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange would reorganize the disciplinary process and require ongoing criminal record checks for all teachers.

LaGrange says the vast majority of teachers are caring and responsible, but there needs to be more transparency and efficiency around teacher discipline.

The centrepiece of the bill proposes a new online portal to search Alberta teachers and teaching leaders.

The portal would contain dates and details of disciplinary decisions about individual teachers dating back to 1990.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association is currently in charge of disciplining its active members.

The portal would be run by the Alberta Education registrar and would be updated no later than two months after a decision was made.

There could be exemptions on a case-by-case basis, including having to comply with court orders or to make sure no harm or distress came to third parties.

“The overwhelming majority of teachers are incredible professionals; however, when disciplinary matters do arise the process should be timely and transparent,” LaGrange told the house Tuesday as she introduced the bill.

“This important legislation would further ensure safety for students, confidence for parents, and accountability for teachers.”

Under the bill, the number of disciplinary committees would be reduced and the minister would be granted the power to immediately cancel the teaching certificate of any educator convicted of a serious Criminal Code offence.
Which offences that would apply to are to be determined in regulations later.

The six current disciplinary panels would be telescoped into one staffed by ATA members and by individuals from the public selected by the education minister.

That main panel would handle disciplinary matters via three subcommittees.

The ATA would be required to inform the provincial government of any complaints lodged against its members and to deliver updates on ongoing complaints.

School authorities would have to do criminal checks when hiring new teachers and every five years afterward.

Current teachers would have 16 months to complete the checks.

Opposition NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman characterized the bill as misdirection from a minister who has failed students on multiple fronts, including not providing adequate supports to protect against COVID-19.

“This bill is a cynical attempt to distract from the catalog of harm Adriana LaGrange has caused to Alberta’s education system,” said Hoffman.