ETFO is increasingly concerned about students using a variety of electronic communication tools to malign or harass ETFO members. School boards’ responses to these situations have varied widely. Because this is an area that is developing rapidly, members must know their rights and responsibilities, and take steps to protect themselves.
Examples of the abuses have included:
Because the legal and arbitral treatment of such issues is still emerging, the general principles for approaching such issues are varied.
To date, the common theme is that the person making the electronic communications is held to the same standards as persons making non-electronic communications of a similar nature. These communications have a detrimental effect on the educator, and the school environment. They may involve a large audience and be spread extremely quickly. Because of the impact of these communications, they should be dealt with quickly and thoroughly.
Dealing with Electronic Abuse
Here’s how to deal with inappropriate student electronic communications.
ETFO May Grieve Board Action/Inaction
If the school board fails to act appropriately, the federation may consider filing a grievance on behalf of the member.
The grievance would not focus on the communication but on the board’s response. For example, provisions in collective agreements involving human rights protections or provisions for harassment-free workplaces may be considered. In each case, the specific provisions of the individual collective agreement would have to be considered. Your local president would make this determination, in conjunction with ETFO collective bargaining staff.
Exercise Professional Caution
Members are advised to consult Professional Relations staff in Protective Services at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836 for additional advice.