Province offers public online teacher database
The province is proposing legislation that would create a public, searchable online database of information about Alberta teachers.
The database would include the status of teachers’ certificates, including those that have been suspended or canceled due to unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence.
The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) says a number of the changes to the legislation are what it has worked on with the province and have been industry best practices.
“We welcome the changes and recognize that the (province) is modernizing our process and doing a lot to modernize the government process it uses for private charter schools and superintendents,” said Jonathan Teghmeyer, spokesperson for the ‘ATA. New.
The province says making the process more transparent will keep students safe and create more trust for parents, who can see if a teacher has been penalized for a serious matter.
“We believe that the public should have confidence that issues related to teacher behavior and teacher conduct have been addressed effectively and appropriately, both in the past and in the future,” Teghmeyer said.
“This act is really about modernizing processes and looking at processes that haven’t really been reviewed for many years.”
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the vast majority of teachers in Alberta are “amazing, hard-working educators who have the best interests of their students at heart.”
However, she said that when cases of professional misconduct or wrongdoing do occur, they “must be dealt with quickly and transparently.”
The province says that if a teacher is convicted of a serious indictable offense under the Criminal Code that threatens the safety of students, the proposed legislation will ensure a swift process to revoke the teacher’s certificate.
“The (ATA) believes that the public should have confidence that teacher conduct is managed effectively and appropriately by the association,” Teghmeyer said. “If this legislation helps build that confidence, that’s a good thing. ”
The legislation will require school authorities to conduct criminal record and vulnerable sector checks when hiring a teacher or head teacher, and then every five years when employed.
Teghmeyer said that these checks are also currently carried out at different stages of employment; if a teacher is found guilty of an offense, it is reported to the school board and to the ATA.
“School boards have a habit of requiring criminal background and vulnerable person checks,” Teghmeyer said.
“The government has a habit of requiring criminal record checks in order to obtain certification.
“When the minister says it was not in law before, it is technically true, it was not required by law, but it is important to note that it was generally the practice.”
The bill hopes to reduce judicial review of disciplinary decisions from six months to 60 days.
The legislation will also require the ATA to notify the Registrar of Alberta Education at various stages of a complaint process.
“We believe that the public should have confidence that issues related to the behavior and conduct of teachers have been dealt with effectively and appropriately both in the past and in the future,” Teghmeyer said.
“We look forward to continuing to improve our processes to ensure our ability to uphold high standards of conduct to protect the public interest and contribute to public or maintained assurance.”