Money in Schools: Protect Yourself from Allegations of Impropriety
Professional Relations Services has been called to assist members who have experienced difficulties related to collecting and storing money.
Teachers are often called upon to collect money from their students and parents. Educators are not accountants and could never be held to generally accepted accounting standards. However, teachers are respected professionals and are likely to be held accountable should discrepancies arise.
Teachers could be disciplined by their employer, charged by the police, or investigated by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) over any such discrepancies.
Fundraising Often a Voluntary Activity
Many activities that necessitate the collection of money are voluntary activities.
There is no legal requirement in the Education Act that teachers must collect funds raised from selling chocolate, running a book club, or collecting pizza day funds. Yet, when these activities take place, often at the initiation of the school administration or school council, teachers are often asked to take charge of the money.
Checklist for Handling Money
When handling money, ETFO advises members to take the following precautions:
Borrowing From the Funds
Professional Relations Services has dealt with incidents where teachers have borrowed money from the funds collected. The missing money is often noticed before the teacher has had an opportunity to repay it.
In all likelihood, the teacher would be charged with theft. Subsequently, their employment would likely be terminated and the teacher reported to the Ontario College of Teachers.
Teachers experiencing significant financial difficulties should get the appropriate assistance rather than look at school funds as a temporary solution. Many communities have excellent, confidential credit counselling services available.
If the need for money arises from an addiction, help is available. Many school boards offer an Employee Assistant Program (EAP) that could refer the teacher to the appropriate supports.
Members are advised to consult their ETFO local office or Professional Relations staff in Protective Services at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-383 for additional advice.