Your rights as a teacher facing professional misconduct charges

You may be looking back and wondering where your summer went. Whether you took a class, attended a workshop, or just spent the summer resting and preparing, the new school year came too soon. Your job as a teacher is a challenge, to say the least. Dealing with ever-increasing standards can place a lot of stress on you and your colleagues, not to mention the pressure you often feel from the parents of your students.

Nevertheless, you most likely find the work satisfying and the students refreshing. This is why it may have come as a shock when you learned that someone had filed a misconduct complaint against you with the Ontario College of Teachers.

Facing a formal complaint

You would hope that a parent, teacher or student who has concerns about your actions or behaviour would approach you to discuss the matter. In fact, the College encourages those with complaints to try to resolve the matter at the school level. If the complainant files a formal misconduct grievance with the College, however, they will investigate the situation.

From the onset of the investigation into the complaint, you have rights. While the College promises an impartial and thorough investigation, you may find it is wise to have a legal advisor as early as possible to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process, which includes the following steps:

  • The College will inform you of the exact charges against you.
  • You will have the chance to respond in writing to the complaint.
  • You will have the option to meet with the investigator and provide information about the situation, which the College may share with the person who filed the complaint.
  • The investigation may include interviews with witnesses.
  • The College will present the complaint to a panel of members who will review it quickly and fairly.
  • The College will strive to maintain confidentiality throughout the proceedings.
  • The panel will notify you in writing of their decision.

A positive resolution would include the dismissal of the complaint. However, if the College finds merit in the complaint, they may take action that could place your teaching certificate and your livelihood at risk. Understandably, this possibility can place you under tremendous emotional stress, and it is not always easy to think clearly or make sound decisions in such circumstances. Having an experienced legal ally may be of great benefit during the initial process and in the event that you choose to appeal the decision of the College.