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Pitfalls and Precautions: Sexual touching prompts ban from Association membership

February 28, 2017 Gaylene Schreiber, Secretary to ATA Professional Conduct Committeel 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.

The most egregious of unprofessional conduct evokes significant penalties; the Professional Conduct Committee of the Alberta Teachers’ Association will not allow teachers who abuse children to remain in the Association.

A teacher was found guilty of a criminal offence after the teacher, on three separate occasions, touched a child inappropriately and for a sexual purpose. The teacher then asked the child not to reveal the events. The teacher and child lived in the same home. The hearing committee found the teacher guilty of unprofessional conduct under section 23 of the Teaching Profession Act. The hearing committee ordered that the teacher be ineligible for membership in the Association. Such an order ensures that the teacher cannot teach in a public, separate or francophone school. To ensure that the teacher could also not teach in a private, charter or band-operated school, the committee also made a recommendation to the minister of education to cancel the teacher’s teaching certificate. In its decision, the committee noted that the teacher “brought dishonour and disrepute to the profession” through the conduct giving rise to the criminal charges, that the teacher “violated the trust of a child, (which was) egregious, repugnant and reprehensible” and “showed disregard for the wellbeing of the child both now and in the future.”

The Association takes its obligation to protect the profession, pupils and the public interest very seriously. Section 30 (1) of the Teaching Profession Act creates a mechanism whereby the executive secretary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association may suspend a person’s membership in the Association pending a preliminary investigation or the decision of a hearing committee. This mechanism can be used to protect children from further harm while the process is underway.

The Professional Conduct Committee is composed of 17 members of the profession and three members of the public. ❚

Read more Pitfalls and Precautions articles here.

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