How to complain about staff misconduct or suspected abuse of students

Region: Ontario Answer # 1417

Suspected misconduct

Complaints about teaching staff related to professional misconduct, incapacity and incompetence can be made to the Ontario College of Teachers. The College has a duty to protect the public interest. This includes investigating complaints made against its members and disciplining members accordingly. View 1400 Duties of principals and teachers for more information on the College standards and practices that educators must follow.

How to file a complaint

To make a complaint, call the College Investigations and Professional Conduct Department at 437-880-3000.

Complaint and Discipline Process

  1. The College will review the submitted complaint. If it relates to professional misconduct, incompetence, or incapacity, they will send the complaint to an investigator.
  2. An investigator will initiate an investigation of the incident and will notify the individual who submitted the complaint.
  3. The College will inform the member of the complaint. The member will have 60 days to respond.
  4. The complaint will either be resolved through the College’s complaint resolution program, or the College will conduct an investigation of the complaint.
  5. The Investigation Committee will review all information acquired during the investigation and decide how to proceed with the matter. They may:
    • Take no further action
    • Caution the member in writing or in person
    • Refer the matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing
    • Refer the matter to the Fitness to Practise Committee for a hearing

Discipline Committee

The Discipline Committee will hear and determine whether a member is guilty of professional misconduct and / or incompetence. If a member is held to be guilty, the Committee may order that the member’s teaching certificate be revoked, suspended, or subject to certain limitations. The Committee may also fine the member up to $5,000. In line with the College’s mission to protect the public interest, these hearings are usually open to the public.

For information on what constitutes misconduct, view the Ontario College of Teachers Act, Professional Misconduct Regulation.

Fitness to Practise Committee

The Fitness to Practise Committee will hear and determine whether a member is incapacitated. If a member is deemed to be incapacitated, the Committee may order that the member’s teaching certificate be revoked, suspended, or subject to certain limitations. These hearings are generally closed to the public.

View the College of Teachers Complaints and Discipline Process for more information.

What if you suspect child abuse?

In Ontario, the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CFYSA) makes it law that every person must report suspected abuse of a child to the appropriate authorities. A person is required to report each time he or she has reasonable grounds, based on an honest belief, that harm is being done or could be done to a child. A decision to report abuse can even be founded on partial or incomplete information, or mere suspicion to believe that abuse is occurring, even if he or she has already reported a suspicion in the past.

Duty to report

The duty to report suspected abuse of a child in Ontario applies to any child who is, or appears to be, under the age of 16 years. While reporting for 16 and 17-year-old youth is not mandatory, youth who are 16 and 17 years old are now eligible to receive protection services from Children’s Aid Societies.

To help ensure that people report child abuse, those who do so based on reasonable grounds are protected from liability in the civil courts.

Reporting a case of child abuse

A complaint can be made to any children’s aid society (CAS). CASs investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and deliver child protection services. You will not have to give any details or proof of an actual offence, but you will be asked for as much information as you can provide.

When a CAS receives a report that a child is or may be in need of protection, a society worker will evaluate, a society worker will determine whether an investigation is needed after evaluating the risk and urgency of the situation based on the Ontario Child Welfare Eligibility Spectrum.

The procedure involves the following:

  1. Talk to someone at the society or submit a formal complaint
  2. The society will review the complaint
  3. You will be notified of decision

Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB)

If you have issues with how the children’s aid society is dealing with your complaint, you can request a review from the Child and Family Services Review Board, an independent tribunal that can review certain service-related complaints related to children’s aid societies. You can also make a complaint about suspected abuse to the CFSRD directly:

  • Submit required forms
  • CFSRV will contact you and schedule a hearing If your complaint requires further review
  • Attend the hearing
  • Receive a written decision

Office of the Ontario Ombudsman

Complaints about services provided by children’s aid societies and residential licensees to children and youth are investigated by the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman. For information about submitting a complaint call 1-800-263-2841 or visit Ombudsman Ontario.

More info

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call the police as soon as possible.

For more information about what to do if you suspect child abuse, visit the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, or visit Ontario.ca.

If you require legal advice, contact a lawyer.


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