Guidelines planned for teachers who coach sportsOctober 15, 2013
The former judge who oversees disciplinary processes for B.C. educators in public and independent schools is drafting guidelines for teachers who coach sports.
“The line between vigorous coaching practices and conduct that emotionally harms students is a difficult one to draw. However, it must be drawn,” Bruce Preston, the commissioner for teacher regulation, says in his first annual report.
Although he provides no details, Preston says some of the most troubling complaints he’s reviewed since becoming commissioner involved coaches, and drafting guidelines will be one of his priorities this year.
Another will be ensuring that resources are available to help teachers deal with anger management and understand professional boundaries. “Both of these issues arise frequently in complaints and reports that the Commissioner has dealt with to date,” the report says.
Preston also promises to continue efforts to inform the public and education stakeholders about the functions of his office and the government’s new Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB), which replaced the discredited B.C. College of Teachers (BCCT) in January 2012.
The retired B.C. Supreme Court judge said one of his challenges since his appointment as commissioner last fall has been reforming disciplinary processes that cause needless delays. “Delay destroys the fairness of the process. It is hard on the teachers involved and it is frustrating for individuals making complaints,” he says in the report.
As commissioner, Preston received 88 complaints and 190 reports from boards of education and independent school authorities between January 2012 and June 2013 alleging misconduct or incompetence by educators. He also initiated 41 investigations based on information he received via the media, the Justice Ministry and self-reports.
The number of complaints about educators from parents and other members of the public has been increasing steadily and will likely continue to do so as information about the new discipline structure spreads, the report says.
More than half of the cases alleged inappropriate conduct by educators in their professional role. The next highest categories were: inappropriate conduct, physical (13.16%); inappropriate conduct, verbal (11.91%) and inappropriate conduct, sexual (7.83%). The number of complaints about incompetence represented only 0.31% of the total.
Inappropriate conduct in a professional role “typically refers to cases in which a teacher has failed to respect the professional boundaries between teacher and student, or failed to maintain an emotionally, intellectually and physically safe learning environment,” the report says.“This category also includes cases related to breaches of confidentiality, fraudulent documents or inappropriate publication (eg. Posting information or referencing students on a social media site.)”
Most of the cases that crossed the commissioner’s desk were dismissed after an initial review, while 20 per cent were settled with a consent resolution. (Those agreements can be found here.) Only one case proceeded to a public hearing.
Of the educators who were disciplined, roughly 60 per cent were reprimanded, 26 per cent were suspended, nine per cent relinquished their certificate and five per cent were forced out of the profession through license cancellation.
Find the report here.
There are 68,000 people with B.C. teaching certificates, including classroom teachers, principals, vice-principals, directors and superintendents in public and independent schools.