Changes to education leadership in Ontario

July 14, 2020 | Gillian Tuck Kutarna, Nadya Tymochenko

Over the past few months, 14 of the 72 Ontario Directors of Education have either announced their retirement or left their positions.  Such a significant turnover in leadership will not only be felt by the school boards with vacancies, but also by the remaining senior leaders across the province who continue to face the challenges of COVID-19 emergency measures, now without the contributions of some of their most seasoned colleagues.

The local and provincial effects of such a loss of collective experience coincides with some important amendments to Ontario’s Education Act (the “Act”).

On Wednesday, July 8, 2020 the Ontario Government tabled Bill 197: COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020.  Despite the title of the Bill, suggesting the contents might be related solely to economic recovery measures, Bill 197 includes provisions which permanently alter the required qualifications and oversight of Directors of Education.

Bill 197 will remove the requirement that a Director be a former teacher and supervisory officer. The authority to determine whatever new qualifications are necessary to become a Director of Education will transfer from Cabinet to the Minster of Education, who may prescribe qualifications by regulation, “if required”.  None have been announced to date.

In addition to the implications for school board operations and culture, these amendments mean that two levels of external oversight will have been eliminated:

  • a Director who is not a certified teacher will not be subject to the authority of the Ontario College of Teachers, or bound by the College’s Ethical Standards or Standards of Practice; and
  • a Director who is not a supervisory officer will not have had to meet the requirements for a Supervisory Officer’s Certificate, which under Section 11 of the Act is governed by Cabinet (see Regulation 309).

Please contact us by email if you would like a copy of the chart we have prepared showing a comparison of the Education Act in its current form, and the changes proposed in Bill 197.

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