Saskatchewan

Sask. regulatory body says it cannot comment on Legacy Christian Academy teachers

Dr. Dennis Kendel wrote a report for the Saskatchewan government that led to the creation of the regulatory body responsible for disciplining teachers when complaints are made. He wants to know if action is being taken and if the school is employing unqualified teachers.

Report author says teachers connected to abuse allegations should be suspended, investigated

A CBC News investigation revealed 18 former students of the Christian Centre Academy, now called Legacy Christian Academy, have filed criminal abuse complaints with the Saskatoon police. Since that story was published, CBC News has spoken to nearly a dozen more. Most say they will go to police. (Jason Warick/CBC)

A man who spent much of his career considering how professionals are certified and disciplined is looking for answers about Legacy Christian Academy, the Saskatoon school formerly called Christian Centre Academy.

Dr. Dennis Kendel spent 25 years as the registrar of the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons, the organization that manages the licensing of doctors, handles complaints against physicians and metes out discipline. That expertise was put to work by the provincial government in 2013 when he was asked to write a report on how teachers should be regulated in the province.

Kendel's recommendations led to the creation of the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (SPTRB) in 2015. 

Now, he says he is confused and concerned about how allegations related to Legacy Christian Academy are being addressed. CBC has reported extensively on accusations of abuse and misconduct made by more than 30 former students against teachers and staff of the school. 

Speaking to the Morning Edition's Stefani Langenneger, Kendel expressed concern about Minister of Education Dustin Duncan insisting that no provincial investigation will take place until police complete their own investigation into the matter.

"The proceedings under police investigation sometimes proceed fairly expeditiously, [but] they can be very protracted. So it's not reasonable to simply sit back and do nothing until the police conclude their investigation," Kendel said.

Dr. Dennis Kendel wrote a report that led to the creation of the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (STRB) in 2015. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Kendel insisted that every professional regulatory body typically suspends a member who is facing accusations in order to ensure the public and the industry are protected. There has been no word of that happening in this case.

"Certainly it would be unacceptable to simply allow a professional to continue to practise their profession while a police investigation goes on for an extended period of time," Kendel said.

LISTEN | Dr. Dennis Kendel spoke with host Stefani Langenegger on The Morning Edition: 
Dr. Dennis Kendel spent years as the registrar of Saskatchewan's College of Physicians and Surgeons, which regulates doctors in the province. He says teachers must have a similar process to ensure all students can make a complaint to an independent body.

Trevor Smith, the registrar and chief operating officer for the SPTRB, said policy and privacy laws mean the organization cannot confirm if teachers are being investigated. 

"That's done to protect the integrity of the process for all involved until a decision has been made," he said, noting that the public is not notified of cases unless and until they are to be heard by the organization's disciplinary committee.

While most cases that are investigated are the result of an individual filing a formal complaint, Smith noted that media coverage can spur the SPTRB to take action on its own.

"The Board of Directors may ask the professional conduct committee to investigate a matter or consider investigating a matter. So if there was a story in the media, for example, about a teacher or teachers that alleges misconduct and the SPTRB hasn't received any complaints, then the board can ask the PCC to investigate."

Investigations can also be triggered when a teacher is convicted of a crime.

Teacher certification a concern

Kendel has further questions about accusations that not all of the teachers at Legacy are properly certified. 

"If that's the case then there's a serious problem here that the government, the Ministry of Education, needs to remedy," he said.

According to emailed statements from the Ministry of Education, legislation requires that Qualified Independent Schools like Legacy only hire teachers who hold a Professional A certificate and are registered with the SPTRB. The Ministry stated that all 21 Qualified Independent Schools only have certified teachers on staff, but uncertified teachers may still be present.

"The school may employ other staff and Professional A teachers in non-teaching roles such as educational assistants or supervisors, however these employees must be under the supervision of the SPTRB registered teacher. Having additional roles in classrooms is a regular practice across the province in public and separate schools, and QIS," one statement read.

Victims interviewed by the CBC are confident that there are non-certified teachers working at Legacy. They allege that a search of the SPTRB's public database fails to turn up some Legacy teachers. 

Trevor Smith said teachers in all publicly-funded schools are required to have certification and register with the SPTRB annually, and all registered teachers should appear in the database.

Kendel feels it is vitally important that there is sufficient transparency and accountability with professional regulatory bodies, especially when their members work with children and teenagers.

"They often feel incapable of asserting themselves in the face of aggressive action by adults who are entrusted to be responsible in their interface with them," he said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story quoted Trevor Smith saying investigations can be triggered by a teacher being charged with a crime. In fact, investigations can be triggered by a teacher being convicted of a crime.
    Aug 10, 2022 9:33 AM CT

With files from The Morning Edition

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