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Code obligations affect conduct during investigations


February 22, 2022 Chris Gibbon, ATA Secretary to Professional Conduct Committees


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.


From time to time, school leaders and central office staff are tasked with conducting investigations of teachers, administrators or support staff in regard to allegations against an individual or an entire school. While teachers have a requirement to co-operate with their administrator, central office staff or third-party investigator that the division has hired, they also have an obligation to their colleague(s) in regard to the Code of Professional Conduct. In order to meet their obligation under the code, teachers need to inform their colleagues of any criticisms first before raising them with the investigator.

In the case of larger, division investigations, teachers are sometimes given advance notice by the school division that they will need to attend the interview and are also reminded of their need to co-operate with the investigator.

In most cases, school divisions also remind teachers of their obligation to follow the code. 

While teachers want to meet their requirement to co-operate with the employer investigation, they now are required to raise any criticism with their colleague first. As a result, some employers will give teachers the questions in advance so they can speak to those colleagues before the interview. When questions are not provided in advance, teachers need to remind the investigator of their obligation to the code should the question(s) warrant an answer that may be critical of their colleague and let the investigator know that they will need to speak with their colleague before they respond to the question. 

Teachers should be reminded that simply telling a colleague(s) that you are meeting with the principal or division office staff about an investigation is not sufficient. You must let them know what you will be sharing with the investigator first. Teachers who are directed by either their school or division leaders to participate in any investigation are encouraged to contact ATA Teacher Employment Services and consult with a staff officer before the meeting. ❚


Professional conduct

Section 13 – The teacher criticizes the professional competence or professional reputation of another teacher only in confidence to proper officials and after the other teacher has been informed of the criticism, subject only to section 24 of the Teaching Profession Act.

Section 14 – The teacher, when making a report on the professional performance of another teacher, does so in good faith and, prior to submitting the report, provides the teacher with a copy of the report, subject only to section 24 of the Teaching Profession Act

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