In considering an application for registration and assessing whether an applicant met substantially equivalent registration requirements, the accreditation committee of the Ontario College of Teachers was required to provide substantive and tenable reasons for its decision

26. June 2012 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – College of Teachers – Teachers – Permits and licences – Training requirements – Judicial review – Failure to provide reasons

Saba v. Ontario College of Teachers, [2012] O.J. No. 1958, 2012 ONSC 1734, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, April 16, 2012, K.E. Swinton, P.C. Hennessy and A.H. Young JJ.

The appellant, a trained and qualified teacher in France, applied for registration to the respondent Ontario College of Teachers (the “College”). The registrar refused her application in the first instance and the Accreditation Committee (the “Committee”) upheld the registrar’s decision in part and also refused certification. The Committee found that the appellant had met the linguistic and degree requirements but failed to demonstrate that she had “successfully completed a program of professional education that is acceptable to the College and not substantially different from a program accredited in Ontario”. In order to meet the admission criteria, the appellant had to complete a one-year teaching training program in a Faculty of Education in Ontario. The appellant appealed the decision.

The appeal was allowed. The Court recognized that the Committee was a specialized body composed of individuals who were in the best position to assess teacher training and that deference is owed to the expertise of the Committee. However, the Committee’s decision was unreasonable. Taken as a whole, the Committee’s reasons did not stand up to a somewhat probing examination, justifying its decision.

The Committee focused on the appellant having obtained her teaching certificate through a distance education program in France, followed by an examination that could only be accessed with three years of teaching experience (the “CAPES exams”), and a one-year evaluated teaching probation period with in-class observation and interview. While successful completion of the CAPES certificate is required for all applicants for a teaching certificate in France, there were at least two paths to the CAPE exams and the College had previously accepted the other path (involving a program integrated with French universities) as being substantially equivalent to an accredited program offered in Ontario. The Committee did not give consideration to the requirement of three years teaching experience prior to writing the CAPES exams, the 700 hours of distance instruction undertaken by the appellant, or the similarity to the first year of the French university integrated program. The decision was set aside, as it did not provide a tenable explanation for refusing the appellant’s teaching certificate. The matter was referred back to the Committee with directions that the Committee assess the appellant’s educational process to determine whether she had successfully completed a program of professional education that is acceptable to the College and not substantially different from a program accredited in Ontario.

To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.