Jeff Johnson to look into complaints against Alberta teachers

In a letter sent out to every school board chair in the province, Jeff Johnson asked for lists of all teachers who have had complaints filed against them in the past 10 years, regardless of complaint outcome.

Province to investigate all complaints and voluntary dismissals in past 10 years

Alberta’s Minister of Education is looking into complaints made against Alberta teachers.

In a letter sent out to every school board chair in the province, Jeff Johnson asked for lists of all teachers who have had complaints filed against them in the past 10 years, regardless of complaint outcome.

Johnson also asked for information about teacher or staff member who voluntarily left their position for reasons related to misconduct or incompetence.

“Many of you have expressed your concerns regarding the process and expense in dealing with teachers who engage in unprofessional conduct or are not demonstrating the professional competence required,” Johnson writes.

“To ensure we are doing what is best for Alberta's students, we need to improve the way we handle these situations.”

Johnson said the information would be used to improve Alberta’s education system.

ATA President Mark Ramsekar said Johnson's request raises misplaced concern that the ATA is incapable of properly disciplining its own members. (CBC)

Alberta Teachers Association President Mark Ramsankar said the perceived motivation behind the letter raises some concerns for the ATA.

“As a professional organization, the perception is that we can’t discipline our members as well and we are doing a very good job of that. We need to continue having the opportunity.”

Ramsankar also questioned how the information gathered will be used.

“My first reaction is where are we going with it and what are we trying to accomplish? If the idea is to confirm anecdotal notes to try and pick out small pieces  I don’t know if that’s the direction we want to go. If we’re talking about affirming that the processes we have in place are working, then I think we’re in the right direction.”

The letter comes one month after Johnson permanently revoked the teaching certificates and fired four teachers who had been suspended by the ATA, saying the penalties did not go far enough.

Those cases included a teacher who had sexual intercourse with a student, another who had sexual conversations with a student and a third who defrauded the federal and provincial governments of more than $100,000. The fourth case involved a teacher who yelled and swore at students before injuring two of them while kicking furniture and throwing objects.

School boards have until July 11 to submit the documents.

Read Johnson's full letter to the school boards below.

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