Summaries Sunday: OnPoint Legal Research

DateSeptember 25, 2016

One Sunday each month OnPoint Legal Research provides Slaw with an extended summary of, and counsel’s commentary on, an important case from the British Columbia, Alberta, or Ontario court of appeal.

Green v. Alberta Teachers’ Association, 2016 ABCA 237

AREAS OF LAW: Administrative law; Judicial review; Procedural fairness; Privative clause

~The presence of a strongly worded privative clause does not preclude most or all judicial review, but rather indicates that the court must adopt a deferential standard of review.~

BACKGROUND: The Appellant, Cynthia Green, was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the Hearing Committee of the Respondent Alberta Teachers’ Association. The Appellant was a teacher at one school while her son was a fourth grade student at another school. In November 2010 the Appellant met with her son’s teacher to discuss certain concerns. The Hearing Committee found that only academic concerns were discussed at this time, while the Appellant maintained that the topic was her son’s relationship with the teacher. Further emails were exchanged regarding the son’s ongoing difficulties. In early 2011, the Appellant sent an email to the assistant principal at her son’s school, seeking a meeting. Her son had told her that a fellow student had been fooling around in class and that her son’s teacher had said “Jesus Christ, D.” The Appellant did not copy the teacher on the email. A week later the Appellant met with the acting principal and assistant principal at her son’s school, without prior notice to the son’s teacher. When the son’s teacher was subsequently informed of the meeting, she complained to the Respondent, which in turn charged the Appellant with unprofessional conduct pursuant to the Teaching Profession Act. The Respondent’s Code of Professional Conduct specifically requires a teacher to raise complaints about another teacher with that teacher before going above their head. The Hearing Committee found that the Appellant engaged in unprofessional conduct by excluding her son’s teacher from her communications with the school administrators, and by misrepresenting to the administration the nature of her correspondence with her son’s teacher. The Hearing Committee imposed a single penalty of a letter of severe reprimand to address both charges. The Appellant appealed to the Professional Conduct Appeal Committee, which sat a panel of four members to decide the appeal. Despite a tie vote, the Appeal Committee dismissed the appeal. It...

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