July 11, 2014 6:37 pm

Education minister eases deadline on request for teacher conduct documents

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EDMONTON – Jeff Johnson told Alberta school boards they will not need to supply records of complaints about teacher misconduct or incompetence over the past 10 years as quickly as he previously requested.

At the end of June, using his authority under the School Act, the education minister asked for all records of teacher conduct complaints by today, July 11.

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However, shortly before that deadline, Johnson changed his mind.

“In recent weeks, we’ve had a very productive dialogue with the ATA [Alberta Teachers Association] on a number of fronts,” he said.

“As a result, they’ve agreed to come to the table and work through the issues that have been identified with the current system for handling teacher conduct and competence cases.

“As a show of good faith, I put my request for information in abeyance.

“Given the willingness of both sides to work together, I don’t believe the information is necessary to finding a solution at this point in time,” explained Johnson.

“I sincerely hope we can come to a resolution in the coming weeks that will enhance quality assurance in education. The process for handling and reporting conduct and competence cases needs to be strengthened through greater accountability and transparency.”

During June meetings with the ATA about the recent Task Force for Teaching Excellence and its findings, Johnson said both parties felt they didn’t have enough data.

READ MORE: Education minister bans teachers for conduct, overruling recommendations 

He said he had heard concerns about the process and expense to deal with complaints and discipline and he wanted a more comprehensive picture of what was going on in each school jurisdiction.

However, in his latest letter to school boards, Johnson explained “encouraging dialogue” with the ATA changed things.

“Due to the encouraging progress, the information I recently requested from school boards to inform our discussion may not be required,” he said in the letter, which is posted in its entirety below.

The minister still asked the boards to continue to collect information because he might request it later on.

“The minister has sent us a letter indicating that he is rescinding his request for that information which was due today,” said Edmonton Public Schools Acting Superintendent Lorne Parker.

“But he has asked us to continue to collect that information and we are going to be doing that as we move forward.”

To:      Board Chairs of Public, Separate and Francophone School Boards

I am pleased to inform you that in recent weeks, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) President and I have had some encouraging dialogue on the issues raised in the Task Force on Teaching Excellence report.  Additionally, today I was pleased to receive the Teacher Development and Practice Advisory Committee report on the Task Force, which is the result of several days’ worth of dialogue by that group on these issues.  More meetings are lined up for next week with the ATA to further discuss the challenges identified in the report.  My hope is that these discussions will lead to an agreement in principle for direction that will improve our already strong education system.  Due to the encouraging progress, the information I recently requested from school boards to inform our discussion may not be required.

Therefore, at this time I am prepared to hold in abeyance my June 26, 2014 request for information pursuant to Section 77 of the School Act.  To be clear, it is not necessary to make your submission by July 11, 2014.  However, I ask that you please continue to collect the information in full as I may request its submission at a later date.  It is my sincere desire that we will make significant headway on key issues over the coming weeks, and that the information will not be required to facilitate a common understanding of the present situation.

I appreciate your continued co-operation and patience in this matter. 

I commit to you that I will do my best to work closely with school boards on these matters, as I believe it is critical that your voice and perspective be included in any discussion that may result in changes to the education system.  In the meantime, I will ensure that you are apprised of all relevant developments as we move forward in finding solutions.

Sincerely,

Jeff Johnson

Minister of Education

cc:        Superintendents

           Mark Ramsankar, President,  ATA

© Shaw Media, 2014

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