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Teacher discipline in British Columbia : implications of Bill 20 Lowry, Mavis June

Abstract

The purpose of the study is to determine how the teacher discipline system in British Columbia changed as a result of Bill 20, the Teaching Profession Act and Revised School Act of 1987. The nature of the discipline system both before and after Bill 20 was described and the significance of changes to the education community indicated. Before 1987, teacher discipline was governed by a statutory model, pursuant to provisions of the School Act The current system, a collective bargaining model, is governed by the Industrial Relations Act, 75 collective agreements, and arbitral jurisprudence. The study reviews differences in those two systems both generally, and specifically. An analysis of legislative frameworks governing teacher discipline across Canada, as well as a brief overview of the American system, allows the conclusion that the B.C. teacher discipline system is one of a kind in North America and not likely modeled after any other on the continent. To compare the two teacher discipline systems and also to describe them in relation to theoretical concepts, the following were analyzed: (1) legal frameworks governing employer-employee relationships in general, theoretical concepts used to describe employee discipline systems, and studies of employee discipline, especially in the unionized environment and in the case of teachers, (2) decisions of all boards of reference and review commisions prior to 1988, (3) all reported B.C. teacher grievances, specifically discipline-related grievances, and arbitration awards between 1988 and 1991, (4) collective agreement provisions in effect in 1991 related to matters of teacher discipline, (5) critical arbitral jurisprudence on employee (and teacher) discipline, and (6) B.C. teacher discipline cases before 1988 which fell outside the regulated system but resulted in court decisions. The study concluded that the previous teacher discipline system in B.C. was an inferior system, unfair and patronizing at best, but biased against teachers, and open to political manipulation at worst. Only limited teacher discipline decisions prior to changes in legislation were appealed, and even then, often to inexperienced and non-objective bodies. The current system promises to provide more regulated, predictable, and fair treatment, although more knowledge, skills, training and personnel are required to manage the system.

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