Quebec’s education minister says it’s absurd that a teacher can commit sexual misconduct and then be transferred without consequences to another school district.
Bernard Drainville made his comments Friday in reaction to a report that identified numerous shortcomings in how sexual or violentmisconduct cases against teachers and other employees are treated within the school network.
“It makes no sense that a teacher, and more broadly, a service centre employee, can commit acts of a sexual nature or violent gestures and move from one service centre to another without consequence,” Drainville told reporters in Quebec City.
Drainville requested the report earlier this year after several allegations of sexual misconduct in schools came to light. It was completed earlier this summer and published Friday, looking at 18 cases at different school centres and boards around the province.
The report raises several problems with the way personnel files are handled, including a lack of communication between schools and limited training for people who intervene in misconduct cases.
It says schools should do a better job of researching teachers’ criminal histories, noting that it is currently up to the teachers or staff to alert their employers if they are charged with crimes.
The report also recommends that school districts improve the way they share information with each other to better detect problematic employees at the time of hiring.
Drainville told reporters he’s also concerned that details of sanctions are erased from files after a certain period of time. According to the report, a teacher who had received a written warning saw that sanction removed after five months.
“I’m extremely preoccupied, I would even say troubled by this report. I read it, and read it again, and read it again,” Drainville said. “I’m taking a commitment, I’m saying: I’ll work on this, and we will strengthen this process.”
The report also recommends better communication with victims or whistleblowers on how the investigations are unfolding because there is often no follow-up.
One of the recommendations includes getting rid of amnesty clauses in cases of sexual misconduct and violence, which can result in offences being dropped from an employee’s record after a period of time. Drainville said he would discuss with unions to ensure that an employee’s file “is not an obstacle to the protection of children.”
Drainville said he’s hopeful the changes will be in effect for the 2024-2025 school year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2023.