In Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association (Toronto Secondary Unit) v Toronto Catholic District School Board, 2022 CanLII 103047, the Arbitrator found that a teacher’s inappropriate but non-sexual behaviour with students did not amount to just cause for his summary dismissal.
On October 18, 2019, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (the “School Board”) issued a paid suspension to a teacher (the “Grievor”) with 13 years of service following a complaint about his inappropriate behaviour with four students. The allegations included touching the face of a student, platonically referring to himself as “loving” the students, and occasionally sharing personal information about himself with students.
The School Board appointed an external investigator to investigate the allegations. The investigation and the report were not concluded until March 22, 2021, for a number of reasons, most of which were not addressed in the decision. Arbitrator Fishbein stated that a contributing reason was the Grievor’s arrest and criminal charge in May 2019 for an alleged sexual assault of a student in a classroom in December 2016. The Grievor was found not guilty following a criminal trial on the matter. In any event, Arbitrator Fishbein was clear that the criminal charge formed no part of and was in no way related to the investigation discussed in this case for separate allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
The independent investigator’s report concluded that while the Grievor’s conduct repeatedly demonstrated a “lack of self-awareness and professional judgment,” the conduct did not result in inappropriate relationships with students nor did it violate the School Board’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy and/or Code of Conduct. The School Board subsequently terminated the Grievor’s employment on September 1, 2021. The Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association (the “Union”) grieved the termination.