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Governing Ourselves - Professionally Speaking - December 2009
Hearings

Three-member panels of the Discipline Committee conduct public hearings into cases of alleged incompetence or professional misconduct. The panels are a mix of elected and appointed Council members.

If found guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence, a member’s certificates may be revoked, suspended or limited. In cases of professional misconduct only, the committee may also reprimand, admonish or counsel the member, impose a fine, publish its order in Professionally Speaking, or order the member to pay costs.

Panels of the Discipline Committee have ordered summaries of these recent disciplinary cases to be published in Professionally Speaking. Copies of full decisions are available through library@oct.ca.


Member: Glenn Vincent Brazil
Registration number: 424842
Decision: Suspension, reprimand and conditions

A Discipline Committee panel held a public hearing on May 21 and July 8, 2009 into professional misconduct allegations against Glenn Vincent Brazil for using derogatory and profane language with respect to students and colleagues, belittling and hitting a student, and making idle threats to inform the media about colleagues.

Brazil, who was certified to teach in June 1999 and taught for the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic DSB, did not attend the May session of the hearing but was present for the July session. He was represented by counsel.

The panel heard evidence that Brazil swore and used profane gestures in a heated exchange with a hockey-league convenor after learning that referees were not in place for his school team’s game in December 2003. In April 2004 Brazil made inappropriate comments to a female guidance counsellor about a student and accused the counsellor of lying.

In 2005 Brazil threw a piece of chalk at a student, hit the boy on his arm with a metre stick and belittled the student in front of his classmates by questioning his sexuality.

In January 2007 Brazil used derogatory language in reference to students visiting the school and made idle threats to the school’s vice-principal when confronted about the events.

The board fired Brazil in February 2007 for unprofessional and inappropriate conduct.

Having considered the evidence, a plea of no contest, an agreed statement of facts, a joint submission on penalty and the submissions of counsel, the panel directed the Registrar to suspend Brazil’s Certificates of Qualification and Registration for three months from the date of the order and directed Brazil to appear before the panel for a reprimand.

The panel also ordered Brazil to complete a course in anger management related to classroom practice and peer relationships at his own expense within 60 days. As well, he was directed to provide the Registrar, within 18 months, with a performance appraisal from his existing or any new employer.

The panel agreed to postpone and not impose the suspension, provided Brazil met the other conditions.

“The member engaged in unprofessional conduct over the course of a number of years in a number of settings,” the panel wrote in its decision. “His conduct showed a lack of professionalism and respect for colleagues and students.”

The panel’s full decision appears on the College’s public register.


Member: James Arthur Black
Registration number: 238839
Decision: Suspension, reprimand and fine

On October 23, 2008 a Discipline Committee panel found James Arthur Black guilty of professional misconduct for breach of confidentiality. During 2006 and 2007 Black disclosed information that he was required by law to keep confidential and that he possessed as a member of the College’s Discipline Committee.

Under provisions of the Ontario College of Teachers Act, the panel reconvened on February 20, 2009 to hear submissions on penalty.

Black, a former member of College Council who was certified to teach in May 1976, represented himself during three days of hearings over nine months.

The panel received evidence (a televised news story and a transcript) showing how teachers who had lost their teaching licences managed to resume teaching under an appeal system unique to Ontario and British Columbia. The news report singled out a teacher whose certificates had been reinstated during a closed hearing and Black, who was a member of the committee that heard the reinstatement application. The report indicated that Black was the only one of three panel members who opposed the reinstatement.

By law, reinstatement hearings are closed to the public, and proceedings, including any evidence and the written decision, are confidential.

Black suggested that the media contacted him because he was on record as opposing the College’s reinstatement practices, but he acknowledged signing his name agreeing to the reinstatement of one member. He also indicated that the reporter incorrectly reported his stance on the reinstatement and that he did nothing to correct the misinformation.

In addition to the newscast, Black sent several e-mails, letters and a report in which he revealed personal opinions regarding the discipline and reinstatement processes of the College and in which he disclosed information from a closed reinstatement hearing before and after the broadcast. College counsel said that since Black had been part of only one reinstatement hearing, it followed that the information he divulged must have been in regard to the reinstatement of the teacher identified in the broadcast.

Witnesses verified the authenticity of the broadcast that aired, Black’s signing of the reinstatement decision and the College’s code of ethics for Council members that includes the duty of confidentiality.

Having considered the evidence, onus and standard of proof, and the submissions of Black and College counsel, the panel found Black guilty of professional misconduct and directed the Registrar to suspend his Certificates of Qualification and Registration for two years.

The panel ordered Black to appear for a reprimand and to pay a $1,000 fine to Ontario’s Consolidated Revenue Fund through the Minister of Finance.

“Members of College Council must set an example for the profession as a whole,” the panel wrote in its penalty decision. “The committee believed that the penalty should not punish the member but rather protect the public, maintain high professional standards and preserve the public confidence in the teaching profession.”

The two-year suspension serves as a specific deterrent to Black and indicates the seriousness of the breach of confidentiality to the member and the public, the panel said.

“Trust and integrity are intrinsic to the standards of the profession,” the panel said. “A breach of confidentiality at the College or at the school level has serious impact and can have strong ramifications on public confidence, public interest and public safety. Any parent needs to feel secure in speaking with their child’s teachers with respect to discretionary matters. It follows that any member of the public must have confidence in trusting College Council members with a confidential matter.

“In this case, the breach of confidentiality from a closed hearing may have damaged the professional image of the College and its members. The need for a strong general deterrent is imperative in this matter.”

The imposition of a fine balances the goal of general deterrence and specific deterrence to the member.

“The public and members involved in a closed hearing must be assured that matters will remain confidential,” the panel said. “They must trust in the process and be made to feel that they can participate freely. The role of a committee member in a closed hearing is crucial to ensure this confidence.”

The panel said it considered Black’s argument that it was using him as an example to dissuade other teachers from speaking out. All members are obliged to report professional misconduct or criminal activity, the panel said, “but, in this case, the member was privy to information which by the Act was deemed to be confidential. The member violated the provisions of the Act and the bylaws of the College.”

The panel’s full decision appears on the College’s public register.


Member: Jeremy Peter Grimstead
Registration number: 464291
Decision: Suspension, reprimand and conditions

A Discipline Committee panel held a public hearing on April 15 and 16, 2009 into professional misconduct allegations against Jeremy Peter Grimstead for sexually touching a female student.

Certified to teach in June 2003, Grimstead taught high school in North Bay. He attended the hearings along with legal counsel.

Evidence showed that Grimstead had been charged by North Bay Police in November 2006 under the Criminal Code with sexually touching a student. He pleaded not guilty to the charge but guilty to a charge of common assault. Upon conviction, he received a suspended sentence and a year’s probation.

Grimstead became romantically involved with a student whose family he befriended and went on to live common law with her after she graduated, the panel heard.

Having considered the evidence, a plea of no contest and the submissions of counsel, the panel found Grimstead guilty of professional misconduct and directed the Registrar to suspend his Certificates of Qualification and Registration for two years.

The panel also ordered Grimstead to appear before the panel for a reprimand and to meet several conditions. Before returning to work, he must complete a course in appropriate student-teacher boundaries at his own expense. He must provide the Registrar with a psychologist’s report affirming he is fit to resume teaching without risk of harm or injury to students or the school community, and he must arrange to have his employer complete performance appraisals for two successive years and provide copies to the Registrar.

The lack of evidence that the member was involved in any way in grooming a student and medical reports indicating that the risk of future misconduct appeared to be negligible demonstrated to the panel that the member was a suitable candidate for rehabilitation and presented a low risk for recidivism.

The panel’s full decision appears on the College’s public register.


Member: Not identified
Decision: Counselling and conditions

A Discipline Committee panel held a public hearing on August 20, 2009 into a complaint against a member for inappropriately disciplining students.

The member and his counsel attended the hearing.

In an agreed statement of facts, the elementary teacher with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic DSB admitted to encouraging two boys who had been fighting to continue fighting as a demonstration during a class discussion on bullying. When the students didn’t continue, the member placed his hands on the shoulders of one of the boys and feigned punching motions. Afterwards, he apologized for possibly embarrassing the student.

In December 2008 the Ontario Court of Justice dismissed a charge against the member of assaulting the student.

Having considered the evidence, an agreed statement of facts, a plea of no contest, joint submission on penalty and the submissions of counsel, the panel found the member guilty of professional misconduct. The panel recognized that the member’s intent was educative and agreed that his behaviour was an error in judgment. It directed the member to appear before the panel to be counselled and to complete within six months, at his own expense, a course regarding disciplinary techniques involving intermediate students.

The panel’s full decision appears on the College’s public register.


Member: Not identified
Decision: Guilty of professional misconduct

A Discipline Committee panel held a public hearing on August 20, 2009 into a complaint against a member for touching the buttocks of female colleagues.

The member did not attend the hearing and was not represented by counsel.

On numerous occasions over 10 years, the member touched the buttocks of three colleagues, one of whom he was training for a role in Special Education, the panel learned. As a result, the Northwest Catholic DSB suspended the occasional teacher, who subsequently resigned from the board.

The member admitted to the misconduct and acknowledged that his behaviour made his colleagues feel embarrassment, stress and discomfort. He blamed his poor eyesight for being too close to colleagues when discussing lesson plans or seeking clarification. He also said he realized that his attempt to demonstrate friendliness was especially inappropriate given his maturity, and that he should have known better. He wrote letters of apology to the affected teachers.

Having considered the evidence, a memorandum of agreement, a guilty plea and the submissions of the College’s Dispute Resolution Officer, the panel found the member guilty of professional misconduct and ordered publication without his name.

The panel recognized that the member voluntarily resigned from the College, but said that he would have to show proof of having completed an approved course on professional boundaries and avoiding harassment in the workplace prior to ever seeking reinstatement. The panel also said that the member should know that reinstatement for membership is not automatic and that the facts leading to his admission of guilt would be considered during any review of his reapplication.

The panel’s full decision appears on the College’s public register.


Member: Not identified
Decision: Counselling and conditions

A Discipline Committee panel held a public hearing on August 28, 2009 into a complaint against a member for improper language, gestures, physical horseplay with male students and physically disciplining students.

The member attended the hearing and was represented by counsel.

On several occasions during the 2004–05 academic year, while teaching with the Durham Catholic DSB, the member used inappropriate language or gestures when speaking to students. He also engaged in horseplay with male students and physically contacted students to admonish them when they did not obey his directions.

Having considered the evidence, an agreed statement of facts, a plea of no contest and the submissions of counsel, the panel found the member guilty of professional misconduct and ordered publication without his name.

The panel directed the member to appear before it following the hearing for counselling. The panel also directed the member to complete, at his own expense within three months, a course on classroom management with emphasis on accepted discipline methods.

The panel said counselling would be educative and serve as a specific deterrent to the member, and that the course of instruction would protect the public and students. Publication promotes the transparency of the process and lets the public know that the conduct engaged in by the member is unacceptable.

The panel’s full decision appears on the College’s public register.

Glossary of terms

The vocabulary used to report disciplinary hearings reflects their quasi-judicial nature.If you wonder what some terms mean, help is at hand.

For a glossary of terms, visit www.oct.ca.

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F: 416-961-8822 / info@oct.ca

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