Teacher who scolded a student in public faces discipline hearingJanuary 10, 2014
The conduct of a teacher who reprimanded a student during a public meeting in 2011 will be reviewed later this month by the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB).
A hearing is set for Jan. 23-24 to determine whether Sharon Freeman, a Burnaby teacher, “engaged in professional misconduct and/or conduct unbecoming a teacher when she spoke to a child in a disrespectful and/or admonishing way during a November 2011 public meeting.”
(UPDATED: Following the hearing,a three-member TRB panel found Freeman not guilty of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming.)
It’s a divisive issue and one of the few times that a hearing has been scheduled to consider allegations against a teacher. (Most of the cases handled by the TRB are settled through consent resolution agreements – and that could still happen in this case.)
The misconduct accusation arose from comments Freeman made to a 13-year-old student during a tense all-candidates meeting in Burnaby prior to school board elections in November 2011. The boy – son of one of the candidates – stood during the meeting and told candidates that his Grade 7 teacher had taped a student’s mouth shut.
“I was just wondering what would be an appropriate disciplinary action to that?” he asked.
Before the candidates could respond, Freeman rose and said: “As a teacher, I’d like to say that I think that’s an inappropriate question for him to ask these people.
Turning to the boy, she added: “I think you had a responsibility to go to your teacher, and to go to your principal immediately.”
The moderator interrupted Freeman to say that everyone has a right to ask honest, respectful questions but by that time, the boy had left the room in tears. Freeman responded by saying she didn’t intend to criticize the boy. “I just think that as a teacher, we would want that dealt with immediately, and I would hope that the principal of the school would have been notified immediately and I know that from my past experience as a member of the BTA (Burnaby Teachers’ Association) and as an officer in the BTA, that there’s no teacher in Burnaby that would accept that kind of behaviour from any of their colleagues.”
TRB hearings are open to the public, but reservations are closed for this one because it is full.
The Teacher Regulation Branch, which is part of the Education Ministry, is responsible for ensuring that educators in B.C.’s K-12 schools – teachers, principals, vice-principals, directors and superintendents – maintain high standards of competence and conduct.
Most of the cases that come before the TRB are from school districts and independent schools, as they are required to report any discipline of a certificate holder. But members of the public may also file complaints about conduct or competence to the commissioner for review. Information about the process can be found here.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.