Every year, hundreds of complaints are filed with the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) against educators, and many individuals who are under investigation don’t reach out to lawyers for teachers until it’s too late.
These complaints originate from a variety of sources: members of the public, school board notifications, and members of the college itself. But just because a complaint has been filed and an investigation undertaken does not mean the party being investigated is necessarily guilty – they have a right to make their case and defend themselves before the OCT.
And that’s why finding a lawyer for teachers who has a deep understanding of the disciplinary process and is able to protect your rights throughout is crucial. Otherwise, you could face severe penalties ranging from fines to licence suspension to the permanent loss of your certificate.
Below, we’ll go into more detail about how lawyers for teachers help protect you as you progress through the disciplinary investigation.
Professional Discipline Lawyer for Teachers Explains: How the Ontario Teachers College Operates
The OCT is responsible for regulating the teaching profession and ensuring that all teachers in the province meet mandated standards of professionalism and conduct.
When a complaint is made against a teacher (or initiates one itself), the College will begin its investigation into the complaint and the teacher in question. The investigation is undertaken by the Investigation Committee.
If the complaint is determined to be sufficiently serious, it is then referred to the Discipline Committee, a three-member panel composed of members of the public and the teaching profession. They will hear arguments for and against the subject of the complaint (the teacher) and determine the final outcome of the case.
A lawyer for teachers would be able to represent you during the entire complaint process – including if it reaches the Discipline Committee and requires a hearing.
What Happens During a Disciplinary Hearing
Lawyers for teachers play an integral role as the consequences of a negative outcome in an Ontario teacher misconduct investigation can include:
- Revoking the member’s certificate
- Suspending the certificate for up to two years
- Imposing terms, conditions or limitations on the certificate
- Imposing a time period throughout which the teacher is ineligible for reinstatement
- Forcing the teacher to attend counselling
- Fining the teacher up to $5,000
There is an appeal process that can be taken to the Divisional Court where, again, a specialized lawyer can represent your case.
Too often, teachers ignore these complaints or assume they will resolve themselves, only seeking legal support after the investigation is already well underway.
But if you are able to find a competent lawyer for teachers early, that can, in some cases, dramatically alter the outcome and help you avoid some of the more extreme consequences like suspension or even the loss of your certificate.
Under Investigation? Professional Discipline Lawyers for Teachers Can Help
With the stakes as high as they are during these investigations – your professional life could be irrevocably damaged if the complaint is successful – it’s important to make your case as forcefully and diligently as possible. That way, you can ensure that you reach the best potential outcome given the circumstances of the case.
Professional discipline lawyers for teachers are experienced and qualified professionals who have extensive knowledge of the OCT and its disciplinary process.
What’s more, they understand what the different committees are looking for so they can better prepare your case to match the specific committee’s tendencies.
Your professional discipline lawyer for teachers would be able to take charge of your case throughout the entire process, supporting you by:
- Advising you on compliance and relevant standards, legislation, etc.
- Responding to complaints and investigations against you by the OCT
- Representing you at a disciplinary hearing before the Discipline Committee
- Helping you resolve matters through the complaint resolution process
- Representing you in front of the Division Court of Ontario
Can a Lawyer for Teachers Represent Me in Front of the Fitness to Practice Committee?
The Fitness to Practice Committee is a third committee within the OCT that investigates whether the teacher is suffering from a physical or mental condition that is inhibiting their ability to meet their professional responsibilities, or if the condition requires terms, conditions, and limitations be placed on the certificate.
These are closed hearings, opposed to the open hearings of the Discipline Committee, though the teacher who is being investigated can apply to have the hearing opened to the public.
Open or closed, the consequences can still be dire:
- Revocation of a teacher’s certificate
- Suspension of a teacher’s certificate for up to two years
- Imposition of specific terms, conditions, or limitations on the teacher’s certificate
- Designation of a fixed time period whereby the teach is ineligible for reinstatement
While there are key differences between the Fitness and Practice Committee and the Discipline Committee, a teacher professional discipline lawyer would be able to represent you and argue your case in front of the committee.
Work with a Leading Teach Professional Discipline Lawyer to Ensure the Best Outcome Possible
With your career potentially in the balance, you can’t afford to work with less experienced professional discipline lawyers for teachers. Instead, you need competent, experienced, determined legal counsel that will forcefully make your case before the OCT – you need Unified LLP.
At Unified LLP, our team of professional and experienced lawyers for teachers in Toronto are able to deliver quality counsel relating to all OCT complaint matters, so you can get peace of mind knowing you’re in safe hands. And if the complaint reaches the committee, this expert team will fight to protect your interests. Get a free consultation with us so we can better assess your needs and how our legal experts can help.