Discipline review points way to improvement

Ontario College of Teachers welcomes recommendations to improve transparency and efficiency

TORONTO, June 7, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario College of Teachers will act swiftly on recommendations in a comprehensive review of its disciplinary process and practices, Registrar and CEO Michael Salvatori, OCT said today.

A 76-page report by former Ontario Chief Justice Patrick Lesage - released at noon today by the College - makes 49 recommendations, many calling on the teacher regulatory body, the provincial government and district school boards to improve reporting and information-sharing processes to protect the public interest.

The College commissioned the Honourable Patrick J. LeSage C.M., O.ONT., Q.C., last summer to conduct an independent review of its disciplinary processes and the publication of information relating to teacher misconduct.

Mr. LeSage, an Order of Canada member for his contributions to Ontario's justice system, has presided over some of Canada's most publicized and complex cases. He has served on a number of commissions and has conducted reviews including that of Ontario's police complaints system and of the Canadian military justice provisions of the National Defence Act.

"I want to thank Mr. LeSage for his insightful and very helpful review and recommendations," said Salvatori. "His focus on improving the transparency and efficiency of our disciplinary process provide a welcome roadmap for reforms that will improve our ability to govern our profession in the public interest.

"More than 60 per cent of the LeSage report's recommendations will require changes to the law that we have worked under for the past 15 years. We look forward to working with the government to implement these legislative changes.

"In the future, a parent who is concerned about a teacher will have their concerns resolved more quickly and will be better informed about the case," said the College Registrar. "The recommendation for a mechanism that would allow the fast-tracking of cases where there has been a criminal conviction is one that will be very welcome in our schools and our communities."

The LeSage report also recommends:

  • tighter timelines for reporting information about teacher misconduct or incompetence from boards to the College, from the College to members, and from the College to the public
  • disclosing the names of all College members found guilty of misconduct
  • posting information that a member is facing misconduct charges on the College's public register, Find a Teacher
  • expanding the roster of panel members who hear misconduct cases to include more non-teachers
  • holding hearings on consecutive days until a case is completed
  • requiring that written decisions be provided within 60 days of the conclusion of a hearing.

In January, the College improved public access by posting online more than 600 disciplinary decisions that had previously been available in the College library or through Quicklaw.

"Nothing is more important or sacrosanct than the safety and well being of students," said Liz Papadopoulos, OCT, an elementary school teacher who chairs the College Council. "It is our duty to protect the public interest. Earning the public's trust is our job.

"Our Council has already begun its careful consideration of the report to determine a plan and timeline to tackle the recommendations, including those that involve changes to legislation and require action from the province," said the Council Chair.

The full report and backgrounder is available at www.oct.ca.

The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the profession of teaching in the public interest. It sets standards of practice and ethical standards, conducts disciplinary hearings and accredits teacher education programs affecting its 235,000 members in publicly funded schools and institutions across Ontario. The College is the largest self-regulatory body in Canada. Visit the College's website at www.oct.ca.

Backgrounders


Terms of Reference

The Ontario College of Teachers commissioned the Hon. Patrick J. LeSage to review its investigation and discipline procedures and outcomes, and dispute resolution program. The terms of reference asked Mr. LeSage to:

  • determine whether College processes and procedures protect the public interest, including the processes and procedures contained in:
    • the Ontario College of Teachers Act, regulations passed under that Act and College bylaws
    • policies, rules and guidelines used by the Investigation and Discipline Committees. Such policies, rules and guidelines would include the "Use of Prior Decisions and/or Concurrent Complaints and Related Information Involving the Same Member" "Investigation Committee Decisions in the Margaret Wilson Library" and the Discipline Committee's "Rules of Procedure"
  • determine whether these processes and procedures provide fair, impartial and timely adjudication of complaints against members
  • examine whether the College's dispute resolution program protects the public interest
  • consider whether the College's communication and publication practices prior to and following a hearing meet current standards of transparency
  • examine whether the College's Investigation and Discipline Committee members receive appropriate training and legal support to carry out their mandate to protect and serve the public interest
  • examine whether cases involving similar findings of fact have resulted in a consistent range of penalties or other outcomes.
  • examine whether the College provides acceptable protection of confidentiality in its investigation and hearing procedures
  • review College protocols for the initial handling of frivolous and vexatious concerns.

Reviewers

The Honourable Patrick J. LeSage C.M., O.ONT., Q.C.

The former Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court retired from the bench after 29 years of distinguished service and joined Gowling, Lafleur Henderson LLP, one of Canada's leading diversified law firms, in February 2004.

His practice is focused on providing advice on complex disputes and he also acts as a mediator, arbitrator, and/or fact finder in significant private and public sector matters.

Patrick LeSage began his career as a Crown Attorney in the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General where he rose to the position of the Director of Crown Attorneys for Ontario. In 1975, he was appointed to the County and District Court and became Associate Chief Judge of that Court in 1983. In 1994, he became Associate Chief Justice and in 1996, was appointed Chief Justice of what is now the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, a position he held until September 2002.

In almost three decades on the bench, Mr. LeSage presided over some of Canada's most publicized and complex cases.

He lectured extensively to judges, law students and law societies. He was involved in introducing gender and racial equality seminars for judges in the late 1980s. He was a member of the Equality Committee and the Administration of Justice Committee of the Canadian Judicial Council and is a past director of the Canadian Judges Conference.

In 2004, Mr. LeSage was appointed to the Board of Governors of York University and was elected a Senior Fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto, in 2005.

In July 2004, he was appointed by the Government of Ontario to conduct an Extensive Review of Ontario's Police Complaints System. His final report, presented to the Attorney General in 2005, contained 27 recommendations, which were incorporated in the independent Police Review Act.

In December 2005, Mr. LeSage was appointed by the Attorney General of Manitoba to conduct an Inquiry into the first-degree murder conviction of James Driskell. The Commission of Inquiry Into Certain Aspects of the Trial and Conviction of James Driskell began in April 2006, and Mr. LeSage's findings and recommendations were provided to the Attorney General on January 30, 2007.

In December 2005, he was appointed as a Commissioner of the Ontario Securities Commission and served in that capacity until February 2011.

In March 2007, he was appointed by the Government of Ontario as Vice Chair of the Consent and Capacity Board. In August 2007, he was appointed as an Advisor to the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association for a two-year term.

In April 2007, the former Chief Justice was appointed as Senior Independent Consultant to the Ontario Criminal Conviction Review Committee, a Standing Committee within the Criminal Law Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General. The OCCRC was established in May 2006 to provide expert leadership in the prevention of wrongful convictions.

In 2008, Mr. LeSage was appointed by the Attorney General to conduct a review of large and complex criminal case procedures. He and Michael Code (now Justice Michael Code of the Superior Court of Justice) presented their report to the Attorney General in November 2008. The LeSage-Code Report led to Bill C-2 Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act being passed by the Parliament of Canada in June 2011. 

In October 2008, Mr. LeSage accepted an invitation to attend in Tanzania to address the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on the issues involved in managing complex trials.

In November 2009, he was appointed by the Board of Directors of The Toronto Community Housing Corporation to conduct an Independent Review of the Eviction of Al Gosling and the TCHC's Eviction Prevention Policy. His report was delivered in June 2010.

In December 2009, Mr. LeSage was retained by the Ministry of the Attorney General in connection with matters involving the Special Investigations Unit and the police in Ontario. He provided Recommendations to the Ministry in April 2011.

In August 2010, he and Dr. Alan Meek (Dean Emeritus of the Ontario Veterinary College) were retained by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to conduct an Independent External Review of events that occurred in May 2010 at the York Regional Branch of the OSPCA. Their report was delivered in April 2011.

In March 2011, he was appointed by the Minister of National Defence to conduct an Independent Review of the Military Justice provisions of the National Defence Act.

On April 26, 2012, the Ontario Bar Association presented its President's Award to Mr. LeSage for his outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Ontario.

K. Lynn Mahoney

Lynn Mahoney is a partner in the advocacy department at Gowlings' Toronto office with a practice consisting primarily of commercial litigation matters.

In addition to her commercial litigation practice, She has criminal law experience as both a prosecutor and defence counsel. Her practice has also involved professional disciplinary matters.

Ms. Mahoney has acted as counsel before the Law Society of Upper Canada and as independent counsel to the Ontario College of Pharmacists and the College of Midwives of Ontario.

She has appeared before all levels of court in Ontario, including the Court of Appeal, and has represented her clients before regulatory tribunals, and in large public inquiries, including the Walkerton Inquiry.

Most recently, she has acted as counsel on several inquires and also reviews commissioned by the provincial government: The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence, Report of the Review of Large and Complex Criminal Case Procedures and the Report on Financial Assistance for Victims of Violent Crime in Ontario.

Ms. Mahoney was called to the bar in 1988, after having received her law degree from the University of Toronto and a BA in French and English Literature from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Consultation 

The reviewers met with or heard from other regulators, teacher federations, parents, principals and supervisory officers in both French and English. The following is a list of the organizations consulted.

  • Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations
  • People for Education
  • Ontario Public School Boards' Association
  • Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association
  • Ontario Teachers' Federation
  • Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
  • Counsel for Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
  • Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
  • Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
  • Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens
  • Conseil ontarien des directrices et directeurs de l'éducation de langue française
  • Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l'Ontario
  • Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario
  • Ontario Federation of Independent Schools
  • Ontario Public Supervisory Officials' Association
  • Ontario Principals' Council
  • Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario
  • Association des directions et directions adjointes des écoles franco-ontariennes
  • Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association - Elected Officers
  • Representatives of various school boards
  • Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
  • Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto
  • Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators
  • Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario
  • College of Nurses of Ontario
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
  • College of Physiotherapists of Ontario

SOURCE Ontario College of Teachers

For further information:

Media Relations
416-961-8800, ext. 647


FORFAITS PERSONNALISÉS

Jetez un coup d’œil sur nos forfaits personnalisés ou créez le vôtre selon vos besoins de communication particuliers.

Commencez dès aujourd'hui .

ADHÉSION À CNW

Remplissez un formulaire d'adhésion à CNW ou communiquez avec nous au 1-877-269-7890.

RENSEIGNEZ-VOUS SUR LES SERVICES DE CNW

Demandez plus d'informations sur les produits et services de CNW ou communiquez avec nous au 1‑877-269-7890.