Province to scrap controversial teacher hiring rule

Posted on October 15, 2020 in Education Delivery System

Source: — Authors: – Politics/Provincial Politics

The Ontario government is going to move “aggressively” and scrap a controversial hiring rule that gives preference to supply teachers with the most seniority, the Star has learned.

After years of complaints from boards and principals about Regulation 274 — which essentially forces them to hire from among a small group of teachers who have spent the most time on the supply list — Education Minister Stephen Lecce is poised to make the announcement on Thursday, sources said.

Since taking over the ministry, Lecce has repeatedly said he does not support Regulation 274 and prefers that schools hire the best fit for the job.

Prompting the change at this time is the hiring challenges boards are now experiencing with COVID-19, with the regulation putting an additional burden on administrators, sources said.

In addition, a recent report on systemic racism in the Peel District School Board identified a need for more teachers from diverse backgrounds — an issue of concern in other boards as well, sources also said.

The change is “going to be addressing the problem (and) moving quite a bit more aggressively,” said one source familiar with the announcement.

Regulation 274 gives preference to the five qualified teachers who have been on the supply list the longest when they are applying for new long-term and full-time teaching positions. It was first negotiated by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Liberal government back in 2012 as a way to address nepotism.

Principals, however, complained that they were not able to hire the person best suited to the position and the school’s needs.

During the last round of negotiations, only the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association was able to come to an agreement about Regulation 274, agreeing to a watered-down version that allowed boards to exempt about one-third of new hires.

That will remain in place until the contract expires, sources said, and then become an issue during the next round of bargaining talks.

Changes to the hiring rules will not come into effect immediately, but will be implemented over time, sources said.

Both the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation left Regulation 274 out of their most recent collective agreements, saying no consensus could be reached with the province.

Both acknowledged at the time that the government could at some point impose changes, but the elementary union had advised its members that if that happened, it would “consult with legal counsel regarding options.”

Last December, after sending in troubleshooters to examine racism and dysfunction in the Peel District School Board, Lecce said he had personally heard from families who were concerned that teachers don’t reflect the diversity of the students they serve.

“What is really the challenge that impedes the ability of boards to make decisions based on merit or equity is Regulation 274, which creates some impediments to hiring talented educators based on their qualifications,” Lecce told the Star last December.

He said the rule “eliminates the ability of boards to find, to choose, merited candidates that happen to be (diverse) or of specific backgrounds to better reflect the communities they represent. Their advice to me was to very seriously look at removing those impediments and I committed to them to doing so.”

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