BRAMPTON, Ont. - Ontario's self-proclaimed "education premier" took a hard line against problem teachers Friday, vowing to out those who abuse their "position of trust."
Parents have a right to know when teachers misbehave and more should be done to warn them, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said at an election campaign stop in Brampton.
What's more, the profession's watchdog, the Ontario College of Teachers, needs to be more open about how it deals with rogue teachers, he said.
The organization, which licenses and regulates the province's teachers, recently hired retired judge Patrick LeSage to examine its disciplinary procedures after the Toronto Star found it hid the identities of scores of bad teachers.
The paper found teachers who swiped cash meant for school trips, flirted with underage students or punished their charges by locking them in a storage cupboard were granted anonymity after they pleaded guilty to certain allegations.
LeSage is expected to finish his report by the end of May and the organization intends to make the document public.
McGuinty promised to keep tabs on the review — and step in if it doesn't crack down hard enough.
"If the report doesn't go far enough, if it doesn't uphold the principle of a parent's right to know, then we will take the necessary steps to ensure that we uphold that right," he said.
The teachers' college wouldn't comment on the premier's remarks, but said it is committed to protecting the public interest and the safety of Ontario students.
In a statement posted on its website, the organization said it regularly asks experts to review its procedures.
"If there are any flaws in our practices, we want to fix them," it said.
But there's still a chance the issue could undermine parents' faith in the system, the opposition said.
"I look forward to hearing more about this, talking to parents and teachers about how we can make sure that we hold the profession in the high esteem it deserves," Tory Leader Tim Hudak, who comes from a family of educators, told reporters.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called the reports of teacher misconduct "disturbing" but refrained from making any recommendations of her own until the review is complete.
The teachers' college is called to investigate when there are allegations of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity against one of its members.
Complaints are typically handled through public hearings or dispute resolution, according to the organization's website.
Teachers found guilty of misconduct or incompetence can see their licence revoked, suspended or limited.
The watchdog publishes summaries of some decisions on its site and in its quarterly newsletter, but withholds the teacher's name and school.
McGuinty stressed the need for transparency after touring a Chrysler plant in Brampton, west of Toronto.
The premier also talked up his government's efforts to help automakers hit hard in the last recession and promised to do it again if the province faces another slump.
But he warned the auto sector can't expect any support from the Tories, who opposed the $4.8-billion loans that bolstered the struggling industry.
The Tories maintain the Liberals have failed to deliver the jobs they promised.