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New council given responsibility for teacher discipline

The British Columbia government is replacing the B.C. College of Teachers with a new B.C. Teachers' Council that will deal with disciplinary matters in the education system.

"I would not be putting forward this model if I did not believe it will stand the test of time," said Education Minister George Abbott during a briefing for reporters this morning, a couple hours before the legislation was introduced.

The new council, which Abbott said responds to recommendations from a 2010 report by Don Avison, will have three representatives from the B.C. Teachers' Federation, five elected by teachers and seven from education partner groups including the associations for trustees, superintendents and Parent Advisory Councils.

Abbott said the new council puts student safety first and the public interest first, and will provide a more accountable and transparent teacher regulation system.

Asked what response he expects from the BCTF, Abbott said, "I don't believe they're going to send roses." He acknowledged the government may receive criticism from all sides and it will be interesting to see the reaction as people get a chance to look at and digest the details.

The BCTC will convene disciplinary panels to hear complaints against teachers. Those panels will normally be three people and will never include more than one person from the BCTF, Abbott said.

Update, 3:10 p.m.: NDP education critic Robin Austin says that he's still looking at the details and plans to talk with stakeholders, but the legislation is a step forward and it will likely gain opposition support.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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