Amendments to the Education Act
The province is clarifying the process for teacher certification and giving school boards more independence to deal with the conduct of members. Education Minister Ramona Jennex will introduce amendments to the Education Act today, Nov. 14. One of the changes will move authority for teacher certification to a department administrator while leaving the minister responsible to hear appeals. This will ensure a clear and reasonable separation of responsibilities. The act now gives the minister the authority to issue teacher certificates and permits as well as the responsibility to hear appeals. This change will remove the requirement for the minister to hear appeals of her own decisions. “This amendment ensures all teachers understand the process to obtain a teaching certificate and ensures they also have access to a fair and balanced appeal process if there is an issue with their certification,” said Ms. Jennex. Another amendment will give school boards more independence to discipline members for minor infractions without having to involve the minister. Any member who now receives a reprimand has the ability to appeal to the minister. These minor infractions are best handled at the board level and do not require ministerial involvement. Any school board member who is suspended, has their seat vacated, or who temporarily has their right to sit revoked will still be able to appeal to the minister. A member who feels a reprimand violates their individual rights can pursue a remedy through the legal system. “School boards have the ability to manage themselves and their conduct independently, especially when it comes to minor infractions,” said Ms. Jennex. “The minister should only intercede when the penalties have the potential to impact the operations of a board, such as a suspension.” A further amendment will update the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority Act to reflect recent operational changes, such as the move of a resource centre to a new facility on South Street in Halifax.