What Is Professional Misconduct in Teaching – and What to Do When Undergoing a Ontario Teacher Misconduct Investigation

What Is Professional Misconduct in Teaching? What Do I Do If I am being investigated by the Ontario College of Teachers?

Each year there are hundreds of complaints of Ontario teacher misconduct and resulting investigations by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) investigation committee. But just because you are accused of professional misconduct does not mean you are guilty – retaining lawyers for teachers early is critical to protecting your professional licence and reputation. But first, we need to establish what is professional misconduct in teaching – what qualifies and what are your options once accused. 

What Is Professional Misconduct in Teaching? 

What is professional misconduct in teaching? 

Essentially, Ontario teacher misconduct is any act that runs afoul of the defined professional misconduct designations in subsection 30 (20) of the Ontario College of Teachers Act

More specifically, see the bottom of the post for a detailed list of acts that constitute professional misconduct.

Facing Investigation by the OCT? Professional Discipline Lawyers for Teachers Are Vital 

If a complaint is made against you by either a third party of the OCT itself, the College will begin an investigation into the complaint. The investigation is undertaken by the Investigation Committee. Learn more about the OCT investigation process.

Should the complaint be successful and you be found guilty of professional misconduct, you may face the following disciplinary decisions:

  • The revocation of your certificate
  • The suspension of your certificate for up to two years
  • The imposition of terms, conditions or limitations on your certificate
  • The imposition of a time period throughout which the teacher is ineligible for reinstatement
  • Mandatory counselling
  • Fines of up to $5,000

Furthermore, depending on the outcome of the complaint (and the type of complaint), there is a possibility that information gleaned during the hearing can be used in a criminal proceeding (again, only if warranted). 

In other words, the stakes are high. Your professional life could be significantly impaired by a successful complaint. 

Professional discipline lawyers for teachers are able to support you through the process and mount a forceful defence against the complaint. An experienced professional discipline lawyer will leverage knowledge of the OCT and its proceedings, expert witnesses, sharp legal knowledge, and more to protect your rights in the event of an investigation. 

Your professional discipline lawyer for teachers can help if you’re subject to an Ontario teacher misconduct investigation by:

  • Advising you on the relevant standards, legislation, etc, in addition to compliance 
  • Responding to Ontario teacher misconduct complaints from the OCT
  • Representing you at a disciplinary hearings
  • Using the complaint resolution process to address the complaint
  • Representing you in front of the Division Court of Ontario

And more. 

If you are under investigation, it is critical to seek our legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure you have the best possible chance of achieving a positive outcome – as well as avoid releasing sensitive information that could be then leveraged against you in a potential criminal proceeding (only if the complaint involves potentially criminal acts).

What Happens During a Disciplinary Hearing

If you’re a teacher in Ontario and you have been referred to the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practise Committee, then working with a professional discipline lawyer is in your best interest. 

Teacher performance, records of the complaint, the teacher’s history with the district school board, and more can all come into play. Once you receive a notice of an investigation or a notice of hearing, working with a legal professional will help you achieve the best possible outcome. 

Reach the Best Possible Outcome in Your Ontario Teacher Misconduct Investigation with an Experienced Professional Discipline Lawyer

Unified LLP can begin helping you from the first moment you receive notice that you are under investigation by the OCT – working to resolve the complaint swiftly and successfully. 

At Unified LLP, our team of professional and experienced lawyers for teachers in Toronto deliver quality legal counsel for every step of the OCT complaint process; get peace of mind that you are being defended by legal professionals. And if the complaint reaches the committee, this expert team will fight to protect your interests. 

Get a free consultation with a lawyer for teachers; together, we can better assess your needs and how our team of professional discipline lawyers can help. 

Ontario Teacher Misconduct List – What Constitutes Professional Misconduct for Teachers

  • Supplying false information or documents about your professional qualifications to the OCT or any other person.
  • Falsifying or misusing using a term, title or designation that indicates a specialization in the profession without having said specialization on the member’s certificate of qualification and registration.
  • Permitting, counselling or assisting an individual who is not a member in representing themself as a member of the OCT
  • Providing a name other than the one that is registered in the course of his or her professional duties
  • Failing to reach the standards laid out by the OCT
  • Releasing or disclosing information concerning a student to a person other than the student or the student’s legal guardians (if they’re a minor)
    • In some circumstances, this information may be disclosed and not constitute professional misconduct, such as:
      • The student or the student’s legal guardian (if a minor) consents to the release or disclosure of the information
      • You are compelled by law to legally disclose
  • Abusing a student either verbally, physically, psychologically, emotionally, or sexually
  • Teaching while intoxicated or using substances
  • Teaching while adversely affected by a dysfunction that impairs your ability to safely teach/care for students
    • To qualify as professional misconduct, you must know that the dysfunction is impairing your ability to teach and treatment (if proscribed) is actively being ignored
  • Disregard and disregarding a term, condition or limitation imposed on your certificate of qualification and registration
  • Failing to keep records as prescribed by your professional duties
  • Failing to adequately supervise someone who is under your care in a professional capacity
  • Signing or issuing in the course of your professional duties a document that the member knows or ought to know contains a false, improper or misleading statement
  • Falsifying a record that relates to your professional responsibilities
  • Failing to comply with the Ontario College of Teachers Act or the regulations or the by-laws
  • Failing to comply with the Education Act or the regulations contained within the Act, provided you are subject to the act
  • Contravening a law if the contravention is directly relevant to your suitability to hold a certificate of qualification and registration, or if the contravention of the law in question would put a student at risk (i.e. abuse of a minor)
  • Acting in a way that would reasonably be considered by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional
  • Conducting yourself in a way unbecoming of a member of OCT
  • Failing to appear before a panel of the Investigation Committee when being cautioned or admonished, if the Investigation Committee has required the member to appear before them under clause 26 (5) (c) of the Act.
  • Failing to comply with an order of a panel of the Discipline Committee or an order of a panel of the Fitness to Practise Committee
  • Failing to cooperate in a Ontario teacher misconduct investigation undertaken by the OCT
  • Failing to provide requested information in a complete and accurate manner if required to do so by the OCT
  • Failing to follow written directives upon entering an agreement with the OCT
  • Failing to respond adequately and within a reasonable time frame to written inquiries from the OCT
  • Practising when a conflict of interest is present
  • Failing to comply with the member’s duties under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act

Discriminating against an individual or persons under your care prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code