‘Bill 15 is a mistake’: ATA raises concerns over reform of teacher discipline process

The Alberta government has passed a bill that changes the discipline process for teachers.

In a series of tweets posted Thursday, Alberta’s Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said Bill 15 will “Make the process more timely, transparent, free from bias and elevates the status of the teaching profession to best meet the needs of our children.”

“The creation of the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission, means an arm’s-length commissioner will be appointed to oversee teacher and teacher leader conduct and competency complaints for the entire profession starting in January 2023.

“As of September 2022, duty to report requirements will be strengthened and reaffirmed within the education system. Education partners will have to report to police if there may have been serious harm or a threat to student safety caused by a teacher or teacher leader.”

Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) president Jason Schilling takes exception with the province’s move.

“Bill 15 is a mistake, and its implementation will significantly alter Alberta’s public education system,” said Schilling in a statement. “Without any meaningful consultation, the minister of education has passed this legislation, which fundamentally changes the identity and culture of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.”

This is the latest feud in what has already been a contentious relationship between the ATA and the province.

“Bill 15 is an effort to punish the association and teachers for daring to stand up to the government’s bad decisions when it comes to education and to coerce us into complying with their agenda,” said Schilling, “but we will not waiver.”

Schilling believes the changes were passed based on “unfounded allegations propelled by lies and misinformation.”

“While the minister attempts to distract the public from her mishandling of the education file, particularly when it comes to issues like curriculum, underfunding, deteriorating classroom conditions and privatization, we will continue to focus on the things that matter most—students and schools.”

The ATA released a poll on April 27 that suggests a small minority of Albertans believe teachers are incapable of handling disciplinary matters.

LaGrange announced in December 2021 that the provincial government would be taking steps to change the disciplinary process for teachers following the revelation that the ATA was aware of the alleged inappropriate conduct of a Calgary teacher at least 15 years before he was criminally charged.

Bill 15 was then introduced in March. You can read more about what the Bill entails here.

With files from CTV News’ Michael Franklin

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