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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 1, September 2007

Bill 21

Teaching Profession (Teacher Registration) Amendment Act

By Gretchen Brown

Bill 21 amends the Teaching Profession Act and the School Act in relation to the College of Teachers.

Bill 21 makes six main changes.

Employers’ registry

The first main change is the creation of a new employers’ registry. This registry will include a list of all members of the college, and a list of all the school boards or education authorities those members have worked for. The information will be kept current for 10 years.

This registry will only be accessible to prospective employers at the time of hiring. It will not be available to the public. Employers must keep the information obtained from the list confidential. It is important to note that the legislation does not require the registry to include any disciplinary history.

Online registry

The second main change is the creation of an online registry which is accessible to the public. This registry will include the member’s name, the current status of the member’s teaching certificate, that is whether the certificate is valid or invalid, and whether the member is currently practicing or non-practicing. It will also include a record of any discipline action taken by the college including all suspensions and terminations. Reprimands will be included where matters involve significant emotional harm, physical harm, or sexual abuse of a student or minor. The registry will also include college discipline for breaches of college standards. Because the standards are so broad, this effectively means that all college discipline must be included on the registry.

Bill 21 also sets out how long the information must be kept in the registry. Reprimands may be removed from the registry after five years. There are no provisions for the removal of suspensions or terminations. It appears that the intention of the legislation is that suspensions and terminations will remain on the registry for as long as the person is a member of the college.

It is important to note that the registry includes only formal discipline by the college. It does not include matters that are resolved informally. It also does not include any record of discipline by the employer.

Publication of names

The third main change made by Bill 21 is in the area of the publication of names of the disciplined members. Currently, this matter is governed by the college’s own bylaws. Those bylaws allow the college to exercise discretion in unusual cases to withhold the member’s name from public discipline summaries. Under the new legislation, the college cannot do that. In all cases, the member’s name must be published to the public even in cases where grievous harm would result from the publication.

Concurrent with grievances

The fourth main change is the removal of the requirement to wait until the grievance process is concluded. Prior to Bill 21, the School Act prevented the college from acting on any report of discipline if that report was currently the subject of an ongoing grievance. Bill 21 removes that. The college now does not have to wait until the grievance process is concluded.

The college has already implemented this change and has been proceeding on cases that are still at grievance.

Employer duty to report

The fifth main change is in the area of the employer’s duty to report. Prior to Bill 21, boards were required to report all the discipline of members to the college. Under Bill 21, suspensions and terminations still must be reported; however, reprimands only have to be reported if they involved conduct that involved significant emotional harm, physical harm, or sexual abuse of a student or minor.

This new language makes reporting requirements consistent with the position of the BCTF in this matter. The value of this improvement, however, may be eroded by the creation of a new duty on superintendents to make reports. Superintendents are now obligated to report conduct concerns if that conduct involved a breach of college standards, and if the superintendent determines it is in the public interest to make a report to the college. College standards are so broad that almost any conduct could be considered in breach of them. The limiting factor here is that it has to be in the public interest to make the report. Clearly, it is not in the public interest for superintendents to report minor matters.

Special advisor

The sixth main change made by Bill 21 is in the area of the appointment of a special advisor. The School Act already provides for a special advisor to be appointed by the minister in a wide variety of circumstances. Bill 21 adds a new provision that allows a special advisor to be appointed by the minister if the minister feels that the school board or superintendent has failed in their duty to make reports to the college.

Gretchen Brown is a BCTF staff lawyer.

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