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Pitfalls and Precautions: Drug use and indecent behavior lead to exclusion from profession

February 27, 2018 Gaylene Schreiber, Secretary to ATA Professional Conduct Committee

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 purpose of the series is purely educational, so some non-essential information from the actual case may be omitted or changed.

A teacher was convicted of three counts of failing to maintain the honour and dignity of the profession after engaging in indecent public behaviour while under the influence of illicit drugs. The teacher, who had worked with adolescents with mental health issues and addiction issues, knowingly ingested chemical street drugs and then consumed alcohol. Later that same evening, several people saw the teacher in a state of apparent intoxication. The teacher, who indicated he had “blacked out,” was walking around in a public area partially exposed and masturbating. The teacher was charged under the Criminal Code for exposing himself, public masturbation, trespassing and prowling. The teacher successfully completed a mental health diversion program in lieu of the Crown proceeding with criminal charges.

The Professional Conduct Committee imposed a penalty of a declaration of ineligibility for membership in the Association for two years and made a recommendation to the minister of education to suspend the teachers’ certificate for two years. It also ordered a letter of severe reprimand.

The committee noted that the events had been extensively reported in local media and that the actions of the teacher harmed the standing of teachers in general and had the potential to negatively impact the public’s perception of teachers. The committee also noted the harm to those who saw the teacher during his intoxication.

Under the Association’s bylaws, a teacher who is suspended from membership in the Association is not automatically accepted back into the profession upon the conclusion of a term of suspension. A suspended member may apply to Provincial Executive Council for reinstatement. ❚

Read more Pitfalls and Precautions articles here.

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