Alberta Education Minister Appoints First Commissioner to Regulate Teachers

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Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange has named lawyer Julia Sproule as the province’s first commissioner for the teaching profession.

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A cabinet order on Wednesday formalized Sproule’s five-year term beginning Jan. 1. The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) will no longer be in charge of professional discipline and Sproule will oversee a new complaints process for teachers in the province starting next year.

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It is a new position created after the government passed legislation in May to eliminate any potential conflict of interest for the association which also represents 46,000 teachers as a union.

A graduate of the University of Alberta, Sproule practiced law at Wiebe Wittmann Robertson LLP, a Vancouver-based commercial law firm, worked as Associate Vice President of Operations at Legal Aid Alberta, and served as in-house counsel for the city of Edmonton. and in the oil and gas industry.

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In a press release Thursday, Alberta Education highlighted Sproule’s experience as a member of a school council and the board of directors of the Die Kleine Kinderschule preschool, adding that she had been appointed to following an open and competitive public recruitment process.

LaGrange, who was unavailable for an interview Thursday, said in the statement that Sproule’s independent role is critical to the accountability and transparency of the new disciplinary process.

“The legal expertise and senior leadership ability that Ms. Sproule brings to the table, as well as her knowledge of the education system, are great assets to this important role,” said LaGrange.

Sproule said in the statement that she was honored to have been appointed to lead the commission as it “undertakes its important and meaningful work.”

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Bridget Stirling, a former Edmonton Public School Board administrator who is currently completing a doctorate in education policy at the University of Alberta, said that while school board and school board volunteers constitute an important part of the school system, this experience is not sufficient for the complexities of the new role.

“There are a lot of qualified people in this province who could have taken on this role and been able to really take it on by understanding how the system works,” she told Postmedia, pointing to specialists in the right to education.

“It could be done very well, but it’s worrying to see this choice when there are so many other knowledgeable and qualified people out there,” she said.

Erin Allin, spokesperson for LaGrange’s office, added in an email that Sproule has many other skills required for the position, including experience overseeing investigations, managing large-scale projects and people. and making organizational changes.

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The department is looking to fill other commission positions, including investigators and administrators, this fall.

“Other staff recruited to the commission hold a wide variety of backgrounds, including experience with the education system,” Allin said.

The ATA has fought against the UCP government’s decision to adopt a new disciplinary system, with chairman Jason Schilling saying in April that the design of the new system was susceptible to political interference.

The government is set to roll out a new code of conduct for all teachers in January, launching a public call for input on Tuesday.

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