As in past years, our 2009 School Board Conference will cover a wide variety of topics relevant to Directors of Education, Trustees, Supervisory Officers and Human Resources Practitioners. We will take you first on a “whirlwind tour” of new cases and developments, addressing such issues as student searches, employee benefits and PDT arbitration hot spots. This will be followed by two plenary sessions which will discuss in detail current developments in the critical areas of attendance management and human rights.
Following a buffet lunch we will invite you to attend two afternoon workshops of your choice. Our conference will conclude at 3:30 p.m.
Reference will be made to the newest court cases, arbitration and tribunal decisions and legislative initiatives. We will also provide practical tips for the pro-active management of a wide variety of issues.
|8:30||Continental Breakfast and Registration|
|9:00||Opening Remarks and Welcome|
|9:10||Whirlwind Tour of Current Issues
Topics will include:
|10:10||Plenary Session on Human Rights|
|This plenary session will address both procedural and substantive issues. First, we will review the performance of Ontario’s new “direct access” human rights system and will examine the impact of the new regime on school boards. Is the new system effective at quickly allowing parties to address allegations of human rights violations, or is it likely to become backlogged and mired in a heavy caseload? What practical tips and tools are available to boards in navigating this new system? Next, we will review the specialized area of student human rights, particularly as it relates to the topic of student discipline. Finally, we will provide an update on significant human rights case law developments concerning the constantly evolving definition of discrimination.|
|11:15||Plenary Session on Attendance Management|
|Today’s legal environment presents both challenges and opportunities for school boards seeking to limit employee absenteeism and to establish attendance standards. This plenary session will address recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions that clarify the concepts of discrimination and the employer’s duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship in the context of absenteeism due to disability. The panel will also explore recent arbitration awards on attendance management programs and provide cutting edge practical advice on the introduction of such programs.|
|1:15||Workshop Session “A” (Choose one)
OPTION 1: Living in a Weber World
Because of two key Supreme Court decisions, the Weber case of 1995 and the Parry Sound case of 2003, labour arbitrators have been forced to accept jurisdiction over common law and statutory sources of legal liability that traditionally had been managed by the courts. Increasingly, we see grievances being filed alleging torts such as defamation, assault, malicious prosecution and trespass, as well as violations of not only the Human Rights Code, but all manner of other statutes which relate to employment to a greater or lesser degree. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a practical understanding of the law which lies behind these changes, the ways in which arbitrators are currently approaching their newly expanded jurisdiction, an overview of the most common issues you will likely encounter and practical methods of limiting your board’s liabilities in these areas.
OPTION 2: Bill 177 – School Board Governance, “Who Does What?”
The question of “who does what” within the school board sector has traditionally been an interesting (and sometimes contentious) issue. This is largely attributable to the vagueness of the current governance provisions of the Education Act. On May 7, 2009, the Government tabled Bill 177, the Student Achievement and School Board Governance Act, 2009. The Bill (currently at Second Reading) contains a number of provisions clarifying and supplementing the roles and responsibilities of school boards, Trustees, Chairs and Directors of Education. It also contemplates the establishment of Codes of Conduct for trustees containing both provincial and local obligations. This workshop will bring you up to date on the current status of the Bill, the proposed “Provincial Interest Regulation” and their practical and legal implications for Trustees, Directors and senior board administrators.
OPTION 3: Pandemic Planning and Management
Flu season will soon be upon us, and with it, the threat of an H1N1 pandemic. As employers and service providers, school boards owe particular legal duties to their students and employees to prepare for and respond to a possible outbreak of H1N1. In this informative session, we will discuss the pandemic preparedness issues arising from the statutory framework, identifying the rights and obligations of both school boards and their employees. We will also explore practical strategies through an interactive workshop format.
OPTION 4: Pay Equity
Faced with a blizzard of educational and other priorities, school boards have often not been sufficiently attentive to their potentially crippling obligations under the Pay Equity Act. Experience has shown that teacher federations, unions and employees all are more than happy to take advantage of that fact. Although amalgamation occurred over 10 years ago, some boards have not yet developed lawful pay equity plans for each of their employee groups. Other boards have not been particularly attentive to their ongoing obligations to maintain pay equity. The inadvertent creation of pay equity gaps through collective bargaining can lead to significant retroactivity claims for both current and former employees. This workshop will provide a consolidated analytical approach to school board obligations under the Pay Equity Act, a broader understanding of the circumstances that trigger pay equity maintenance issues and an appreciation of the hidden costs and risks associated with non-compliance. We will also identify the proactive measures your Board should take in order to minimize its pay equity exposures before your federations and unions take the initiative.
Workshop Session “B” (Choose one)
OPTION 1: Complex Teacher Terminations
Every teacher termination is challenging. However, when the event triggering the decision involves criminal charges (particularly involving students as victims), the issues go beyond the basic employer/employee context. Questions arise as soon as the Board receives the first piece of alarming information, including the following: How to investigate? When to contact the police? How to deal with Children’s Aid agencies? When and how to get parents involved? What information to provide to the community? How to handle the media? When can/must the Board make the dismissal decision? How to help staff members who may be called as witnesses? How to get information from the police? How to use the trial proceedings? What impact will the trial have on decision-making or decisions made? This workshop will take you through the critical decision points required to manage these complex dismissals by outlining the options available to school boards intent upon acting in the best interests of the students, school and staff who may become involved.
OPTION 2: Safe Schools – School Yard Issues and Cyber-Bullying
School boards have always faced a complex web of legal obligations associated with the problems of bullying and school yard incidents. The recent explosion of social networking sites and the phenomenon of cyber-bullying have added further layers to the challenge. These situations can have a devastating impact on students and staff and can expose an involved board to substantial liability. Depending on the fact situation, there may be intersections between the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Education Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the board’s civil duty to prevent harm on school property, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. This workshop will review the statutory obligations of school boards and the relevant recent case law, and will also provide you with practical advice in meeting applicable legal obligations in an emerging field.
OPTION 3: WSIB for School Boards
The Government of Ontario is increasingly adopting a highly integrated approach to the enforcement of workers compensation, occupational health and safety, human rights and labour relations obligations. It is no longer possible for school boards to deal with their WSIB issues independently of other considerations. Rather, their practices and legal strategies must mirror those now implemented by the Government. This workshop will provide an integrated overview of recent developments within the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We will provide practical advice and strategies to deal with these changes, including advice on how to make the various pieces fit together so that legal risks and claim costs are effectively and (where necessary) aggressively managed.
OPTION 4: Support Staff Issues
Just as is the case with teachers, support staff bargaining units generate their own distinctive issues. This workshop will address a wide range of legal and practical problems that can arise, including EA work refusals and support staff safety, discipline, issues relating to the accommodation of disability and religion, and more.