Investigation of Another Teacher
A teacher wants advice regarding rights and obligations to an investigator from the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) who is seeking information about another teacher OCT is investigating after a complaint from a parent.
A college investigator may interview a teacher as a witness while investigating a colleague. If this happens, contact OECTA for assistance. Any information provided may be used later if the matter proceeds. Answer the questions truthfully. Do not answer in writing. Do not answer questions you cannot answer. It is important to stick to the facts. Do not offer opinions, even if you believe what you say will help your colleague. If you do not have any facts or specific information, do not feel pressured to make any statement.
OCT investigates written complaints about members of OCT. OCT staff cannot refuse to investigate a formal complaint. Under the Ontario College of Teachers Act, the College has overwhelming powers of investigation. Professional Regulation 437/97 requires members to cooperate in OCT investigations.
Although a member of the public may be given the right to refuse to speak to OCT, a teacher’s failure to cooperate could be viewed as professional misconduct. The Professional Misconduct Regulation made under the Ontario College of Teachers Act defines it as:
- Failing to comply with the Education Act or the regulations made under that Act, if the member is subject to that Act.
- Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that requested information is provided in a complete and accurate manner if the member is required to provide information to the College under the Act and the regulations, and,
- Failing to respond adequately or within a reasonable time to a written inquiry from the College.
- Failing to cooperate in a College investigation.
Teachers should be aware that Section 18(1)(b) of the Teaching Profession Act obliges them to provide a written account of any adverse report of another teacher to that teacher within 72 hours. The exceptions are related to allegations of sexual abuse under 18(1)(c). Even if the information regarding the teacher under investigation is positive, it is a professional courtesy to let the teacher in question know what has been conveyed to the investigator. Do not discuss the case with students, parents, your family, staff or other members of the community, least of all the media. If an investigator from the Ontario College of Teachers contacts you, call your local OECTA Unit Office.