Wandering Children and Educator Culpability

  • 09 septembre 2022
  • Renata Antoniuk

Educators have a responsibility to supervise children in their care and protect them from reasonably foreseeable risks. Two recent arbitration cases considered whether educators can be disciplined when a student in their care wanders away or goes off school premises unattended. In each case, a contextual analysis was applied, taking all of the relevant circumstances into account.

In Halton District School Board v Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, an arbitrator overturned the one-day suspension of a designated early childhood educator (“DECE”) who did not notice that a four-year-old kindergarten student left school premises unsupervised. The DECE was working with an occasional teacher that day, as the classroom teacher was absent. Neither the DECE nor the occasional teacher noticed that a four-year-old student did not return to the class after the outdoor break.