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Pitfalls and Precautions: School leaders must observe professional demeanour with colleagues

March 28, 2017 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 committee dealt with the following case between May and August of 2016.

A school administrator was convicted of three charges of unprofessional conduct after making inappropriate and racially charged comments to a teacher colleague. The school administrator also engaged in inappropriate behaviours with the teacher, including slapping and chasing, joking, and mocking, which were perceived by other staff members as offensive, awkward and overly familiar.

At times, the administrator’s behaviour interfered with the supervision and evaluation of the teacher colleague or with other activities in the school involving parents. Additionally, this administrator made derogatory comments about the teacher’s professional competence to other teachers, including comments about the future teaching placement of this teacher.

The hearing committee ordered a penalty of three letters of severe reprimand and fines totalling $800. Failure to pay the fine will result in the administrator being suspended from membership in the Association, which has the corollary effect of disabling the administrator’s ability to be employed in a public, separate or francophone school in Alberta.

The professional conduct hearing committee noted, “Society has a right to expect that teachers will act in a manner that respects all persons regardless of their cultural or ethnic background…and that they will conduct themselves in all matters with dignity and demonstrate respect for others.”

The hearing committee noted that school administrators should conduct themselves with the understanding that they are role models to all staff in the school. 

Read more Pitfalls and Precautions articles here.

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