We all know that when students get in trouble they go to the principal or vice principal’s office to discuss their wrongdoings. But what happens to teachers? Can they get in trouble too? Teachers work for a union that can protect them from certain offenses. After all it’s really hard for a teacher to actually get fired, they would have to do something pretty bad. Similar to students, teachers have a specific process that must be followed when they do something wrong. There are different processes depending on the severity of the offense. The offenses can range from being late or missing classes to assault. There needs to be evidence of the wrongdoing before the teacher can be formally punished.
In the case of a minor offense, such as being late or missing classes, there are a couple of steps administration will take in order to correct the behaviour. It starts with a verbal warning and also a meeting with the principal, administration, and union representative. If the teacher continues to offend, they will get a formal written letter telling what they have been doing wrong and what is expected of th
em. If the behaviour continues they will get a suspension without pay, starting with one day and leading up to a three day suspension if the behaviour continues. If this behaviour continues they can face termination. This process can become more complicated if the teacher is committing more than one offense.
In a situation involving a serious offense, all the steps mentioned above will be skipped and the punishment will go directly to paid suspension while the school and police complete an investigation. As soon as the incident occurs, the police and the Ontario College of Teachers will be notified. This system is used so if the accusations prove to be wrong, the teacher does not lose any pay and can return to work. If the accusations turn out to be true they can be fired and their teaching licence revoked.
If a student reports an offense which occurred in class, administration will call in as many witnesses as they can, such as other students that were in the class, and the teacher. If it is a serious offense the teacher will be sent home. If it doesn’t seem too serious they will allow the teacher to continue working while the school investigates.
For smaller offenses that do not result in termination; the teacher’s name will be put on a list. Every year, the Ontario College of Teachers releases a magazine containing a list of all the teachers that have been in trouble in the past year. These pages are called the bluepages. Mrs. Hunter, a union representative for WCI, told us how she feels about the bluepages, “I feel like for those who have severe violations, that is a good thing. It is definitely a deterrent for people not to want to get on there and be publicized but the college of teachers tend to be very punitive. So they sometimes discipline for some things that are small and don’t really need to be broadcast to the world.”
Teachers that get called into the administration for discipline have the right to have their union representative with them. For the teachers at WCI, Mrs. Hunter or another union representative would accompany them to any meetings with administration, not to defend the teacher, but to ensure that the proper procedures are followed. It is comforting to know that teachers have a similar process to students when it comes to punishable offenses. Every student should be aware of these procedures, and know that if they are ever made to feel uncomfortable in or outside of class there are many ways to resolve the issue.