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107 March 2018 | Professionally Speaking Governing Ourselves informs members of legal and regulatory matters affecting the profession. This section provides updates on licensing and qualification requirements, notification of Council resolutions and reports from various Council committees, including reports on accreditation and discipline matters. governing ourselves IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST Just about everything the Ontario College of Teachers does can be traced to helping members understand and meet their professional expectations. That includes taking action if a member fails to meet these expectations. In the last issue of Professionally Speaking, we discussed the complaints process. Continuing this series, we now turn to investigations. To recap, the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession and the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession define what it means to be a teacher in Ontario. In addition, the Professional Misconduct Regulation defines what actions form misconduct for College members. Anyone can make a complaint about a member's alleged failure to carry out their professional responsibilities. The College then has a duty to review these potential lapses. In any given year, the College receives approximately 1,000 expressions of concern, calls and queries about mem- bers and the role of the College. In many cases, people are simply seeking guid- ance or asking about the College's juris- diction. About 600 of these matters turn into formal written complaints, mainly from the public and employer reports. To explore these issues, the Investigations Unit (staff) and the Investigation Committee (Council members) each play a part. It starts with the Investigations Unit. A Manager of Investigations leads an in-house team that includes a senior investigator, about 14 investigators and support staff. Their backgrounds range from teaching to law, to policing, to social work. Some staff also have experi- ence with other professional regulators. Generally, a complaint is assigned to a single investigator. He or she will review any inquiries already carried out on the matter (for example, by an employer), conduct additional interviews and obtain relevant documents as required. If an investigator requests an interview with a witness who is a member, that individual cannot refuse to participate. Failure to co-operate with an investiga- tion could be considered professional misconduct. The investigation is a confidential pro- cess. At all stages, the member who is the subject of the complaint has the right and opportunity to respond to allegations. Any time new information comes to light, the College must disclose it to the member. It also encourages mem- bers under investigation to consult and seek guidance from their federation or association. Once this part of the process is com- plete, the results go to a three-person panel of the Investigation Committee. This committee consists of current elect- ed and appointed Council members (and possibly previous Council members). Committee panels typically meet twice a month. When they deliberate, members of the panel consider the investigator's report and supporting documentation, discuss the case and decide how to proceed. A panel has several options. It can dismiss the complaint because of insuffi- cient information to support it. At times, it will see information at an early stage and then determine if the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, or unrelated to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. In those cases, no investi- gation is required. In other cases, the panel can remind, advise or caution the member in writing, or admonish the member in writing or in person. This has no bearing on a member's Certificate of Qualification and Registration. It's a way for the panel to raise its concerns, so the member can ideally learn from the incident and prevent further occurrences. INVESTIGATING COMPLAINTS College staff and Council members each have important roles in exploring allegations. The investigation is a confidential process. At all stages, the member who is the subject of the complaint has the right and opportunity to respond to allegations.

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