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Teachers displeased with JTC bill

Published:Friday | November 15, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Clayton Hall

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

SEVERAL PUBLIC-school teachers across the island have voiced their displeasure with sections of the draft Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) bill.

The JTC bill is seeking to establish the teaching council, which would be generally responsible for regulating and promoting the teaching profession.

Among the issues the teachers are uncomfortable with is the disciplinary functions that the bill proposes to give the council.

The actions the council could take include suspension or total revocation of the teaching licence.

Part VII of the bill, which speaks to the professional disciplining of teachers, notes that the council can, at any time, suspend a teacher without an inquiry.

"The council may decide that it intends to suspend the registration held by, or the authorisation to teach granted to, a person under this Act, if that person is in Jamaica or outside Jamaica, charged with a sexual offence or any specified offence," the bill states.

Last Friday, immediate past president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, Clayton Hall, noted that it would be unfair for teachers to lose their licences without having an appropriate hearing with their chosen representative.

He argued that teachers should never be dismissed without having a chance to present their case to the JTC's disciplinary committee.

Disciplinary inquiries

However, the JTC bill does make provision for disciplinary inquiries to be carried out, but these will be done at the will of the council.

According to Clause 83 of the act, the council can conduct an "inquiry into any complaints that provide evidence of serious incompetence of a registered teacher or instructor; of the serious misconduct of a registered teacher or instructor: that a registered teacher is not a fit and proper person to be a teacher or instructor."

The bill also states that the council may deem an inquiry necessary if a teacher is found non-compliant with the restrictions imposed on their registration.

During these hearings, "the teacher or instructor is entitled to be accompanied by an advocate, who with the permission of the committee may make representations on behalf of the teacher".

The JTC bill also outlines that hearings may be formal or informal depending on the outcomes of the disciplinary committee's investigation into a matter.

jermaine.francis@gleanerjm.com