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  • Nov8Tue

    Professionally Speaking

    Learning from Public Schools on staff disciplinary issues November 8, 2016 Melodie Bissell
    Filed Under:
    Abuse Awareness, Vulnerable Sector, Case Study

    All three of my children are teachers. My son teaches grade three students. My youngest daughter graduated with her Early Childhood Education. Victoria, as many of you know, is a licensed teacher in Ontario but is applying her education to abuse prevention and protection, as our Director of Training with Plan to Protect®. 

    Each month, we receive a few copies of Professionally Speaking: The magazine of Ontario College of Teachers. Each issue has inspiring articles on bullying, classroom management, and modernizing teacher education. We often try to integrate the learnings from the magazine into our training initiatives at Plan to Protect®.

    As I read the magazine, I am drawn to the blue pages at the back. These pages report on the three-member panel of the Discipline Committee of the Ontario College of Teachers. They are public hearings into cases of alleged incompetence or professional misconduct. 

    In this month’s issue, these words jump off the page and capture my attention: 

    “Failing to adequately supervise students on a school trip.”

    “Failing to maintain standards, and failing to provide adequate supervision for his students. He used inappropriate disciplinary measures with his students on several occasions. He pulled the chair out from under a student, who fell to the ground and grabbed the student by the neck of his T-shirt to drag him out of the classroom when he would not pay attention. The member also sent the same student out into the hallway unsupervised. The same teacher left students unsupervised with computers, leaving them free to view inappropriate websites.” 

    “Repeatedly failing to ensure the safety of his students and colleagues. The committee found an inordinate number of serious safety issues in the member’s classroom including a fire incident involving an oil spill that was failed to be reported.”

    “She repeatedly engaged in the unfair treatment of students, which included yelling, giving unsuitable timeouts and making students stand in the hall unsupervised for an inappropriate amount of time.” 

    “Failing to adequately supervise students during a class trip. For part of the trip, the member allowed two students of the opposite gender to share a hotel room instead of assigning the rooms by gender. Neither the students’ parents nor the school board had granted permission for this arrangement. The teacher also permitted the students to drink alcohol, and he also consumed alcohol in their presence. Consumption of alcohol is against school policy.” 

    These are just the ones that relate to inadequate supervision. There are triple the number of decisions regarding reprimands, suspensions’ and license revocations for teachers that crossed professional boundaries, sexually assaulted students, involved inappropriate communication, false representation on an application, drug trafficking, etc.

    The question has been asked, "Why don’t schools follow similar policies and procedures as Plan to Protect®?"  In reality, many school boards do. The consequences of infractions or negligence by not abiding by the policies are severe and life changing for these educators. 

    During our Administrator / Leader course, we encourage our attendees to view their roles as any professional would. Just some ways of doing this include:

    •    Maintaining your policies;

    •    Know your policies and procedures inside and out;

    •    Ensure the policies are easily accessible to your volunteers and staff, either on a secure password protected website (copyright), or in each classroom for easy reference;

    •    Train your staff and volunteers on an annual basis;

    •    Ensure 100% of your staff and volunteers are trained;

    •    Maintain documentation;

    •    Report anything out of the ordinary (incident reports);

    •    Ensure you provide planned and unplanned visits to the classroom;

    •    Secure in writing both the organizations and parent's permission in writing;

    •    Provide annual staff and volunteer reviews; and

    •    Appropriately discipline staff and volunteers when they intentionally break policy and do not follow procedures. 

    Professionally speaking …. we must raise the bar on protection – our children and youth deserve it as much as any child does. If we don’t, we are as complicit as the staff member who neglects to demonstrate care of their students, and the organization where they are working and volunteering.   

    If you need help to put these procedures in place, contact Melodie at mbissell@plantoprotect.com  Plan to Protect® provides customized policies, training and assessments for volunteer based organizations.  


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