If you are facing a misconduct allegation as a teacher, your reputation, future employability and livelihood may be on the line. Cases of misconduct aren’t handled exactly like regular civil cases. One of the main differences is that the cases are usually heard in front of the accountable governing body. For teachers in Ontario, that body is known as the Ontario College of Teachers.
If an allegation contains a criminal element, like fraud or assault, then the accused may also face criminal charges outside of the college of teachers. But the general procedure to handle matters internally – meaning outside of the courts – is through a disciplinary hearing by the college of teachers.
The disciplinary board will operate in a manner similar to court rooms or tribunals, but without taking place in an official court of law. The college may also conduct an internal investigation to gather information about the allegations made against you.
Just like a criminal case or a civil litigation case, you have the right to many of the same legal principles. The most important ones being that you have the right to be presumed innocent and the right to procedural fairness.
During a hearing, you may be told you can represent yourself or seek representation. However you decide to proceed, it’s best to consult with an experienced professional misconduct lawyer. He or she will have experience with applying the laws to specific situations, and can help you identify how to protect your legal rights.
Remember, the outcome of this hearing can have a large impact on the rest of your career. If the potential for you to teach in the future is at risk, you’ll need to protect your reputation. Consult a legal professional to find out what options and defence strategies are available for your situation.