Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says she plans to remove the teacher disciplinary process from the mandate of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA).
In a news release Thursday, LaGrange also said that effective immediately, the ATA must notify the Alberta Education registrar of all complaints against teachers as soon as they are received.
LaGrange said she was “horrified” by the case of former Calgary teacher Michael Gregory, who killed himself five days after being charged in February with 17 counts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation involving six students.
“Like many Albertans, I was horrified when I first read the details of allegations brought forward regarding a former Calgary Board of Education teacher,” LaGrange said in the news release.
“I was also appalled that the Alberta Teachers’ Association did not believe they had an obligation to report its disciplinary findings to police.”
Three plaintiffs who say they were victims of Gregory’s abusive behaviour recently launched a $40-million proposed class action lawsuit against Gregory’s estate and the Calgary Board of Education.
According to an ATA disciplinary decision to revoke Gregory’s licence, he admitted in 2006 to mentally and physically abusing students. He was suspended from teaching but chose to leave the profession.
The ATA did not report its findings to police. Association spokesperson Jonathan Teghtmeyer said this month the ATA is not under any obligation to report potential criminal behaviour on the part of teachers to police.
In Thursday’s news release, LaGrange said Albertans will never know what a “full, timely criminal investigation” into Gregory could have found.
“Unfortunately, this episode clearly demonstrates that the ATA failed to protect students from a predatory teacher,” she said.
“As the minister of education, I consider it my moral obligation to do everything in my power to fix the broken system that has let our children and their families down for so long.”
LaGrange said she will bring forward an order-in-council to immediately implement a legislated provision requiring the ATA to notify the registrar at Alberta Education of all complaints about teachers when they are received.
She said she has also directed that legislation be drafted for next spring that would separate the teacher disciplinary process from the ATA’s mandate and functions.
“It is now abundantly clear that the ATA can no longer act as the investigator and the prosecutor for complaints against its members,” LaGrange said.
“This obvious conflict of interest has made Alberta an outlier. All other provinces and territories follow either an arm’s-length or government-operated model for teacher discipline.”