Court confirms importance of indigenous perspectives in teacher complaint process

The Commissioner for Teacher Regulation regulates and oversees the disciplinary process for teachers in British Columbia. Under the Teachers Act, following a full investigation from a complaint against a teacher, the Commissioner can decide to either take no further action, enter into a consent resolution agreement with the teacher, or issue a citation. Rarely is a citation issued and most complaints are either dismissed or a consent resolution agreement is entered into.

In a case decided earlier this month, the BC Supreme Court found that complainants have a legal right to an investigation, and therefore, decisions by the Commissioner to either dismiss a complaint or enter into a consent resolution agreement with a teacher can be judicially reviewed by the courts, and complainants have standing to challenge such decisions.

In the specific facts of this case, the Court also found that the investigation proceeded in a procedurally unfair manner given the failure to interview the complainant or any other members of the family of a child who was punished at a First Nations school. Given the form of punishment used and the cultural context of the school, the Court found that it was especially important to show consideration of the perspective of Indigenous communities.

This case is important in not only ensuring accountability and transparency in the disciplinary process for teachers, but also in ensuring that Indigenous voices are heard in the disciplinary process.

David Wu, along with Robin Dean, acted as counsel for the complainant.