Intake stage - Initial communication to the teacher
Once the TRB receives a report or complaint, the teacher will be provided with written notice of the complaint.
At this point the teacher may seek assistance from the local. The teacher should be directed to immediately apply for legal aid. Our legal aid application form is available on the BCTF website or through BCTF legal. The legal aid application should have all relevant documents attached including those relating to employer discipline proceedings.
It is very important that teachers receive advice from the union or a lawyer before responding to letters or other forms of communication from the TRB.
TRB staff generally keep notes regarding discussions with teachers, including casual telephone conversations. Comments made by teachers may be used against them in later proceedings. Teacher should not admit any wrongful conduct and should not express frustration and anger in conversations with TRB staff.
Preliminary information gathering
The initial review of the complaint does not involve a full investigation but it does involve collecting information from the employer and other sources. The employer is required to provide all requested information including documents regarding unrelated complaints and investigations.
Employers should provide a copy of documents disclosed to the TRB to the teacher but in practice they rarely do so without prompting. Legal counsel should ensure that boards comply with their statutory obligation under section 16(9) of the School Act to send a copy of all records disclosed to the TRB to the teacher.
A thorough submission should be provided to the TRB on behalf of the teacher in order to ensure that any concerns set out in the employer’s materials are fully addressed.
Although prepared by a lawyer, submissions should not be overly legalistic. Submissions should provide a sympathetic narrative which explains the teacher’s behaviour and satisfies the conduct concerns of the TRB.
The commissioner is not well positioned to decide disputed facts. Where allegations are minor, disputed allegations should be noted in a relatively brief manner. The main focus of the submission should be on assuring the commissioner that, regardless of the merit of the allegations, there are no serious conduct concerns that need to be pursued by the TRB.
Where allegations are very serious and are disputed by the teacher, submissions should emphasize other proceedings where the allegations were determined to be unfounded and any evidence which shows that it is unlikely that the allegations could be proven at a hearing.
Decision to take no further action
The commissioner may decide not to take further action if s/he determines that any of the following apply:
- the matter is not within the jurisdiction of the commissioner or a panel ( for example, does not involve an allegation of professional misconduct, behavior unbecoming or incompetence);
- the matter is frivolous, vexatious or trivial or gives rise to an abuse of process;
- the complaint was made in bad faith or filed for an improper purposes or motive;
- there is no reasonable prospect the report or complaint will result in an adverse finding by a panel;
- it is not in the public interest to take further action in respect of the matter; and
- the matter has not been pursued in a timely manner.
The Teachers Act provides for a matter to be deferred if the commissioner determines that it is in the public interest for it to be dealt with in another process before action is taken by the TRB.
This is a new provision that did not exist under the Teaching Profession Act. It is unclear how the TRB will use deferrals. We expect that the TRB will continue the college’s practice of proceeding irrespective of outstanding grievances.