A-170-AR: Whistleblower Protection
A-150, Discrimination and Harassment
D-150, Support Staff Growth, Supervision and Evaluation
D-100, Certificated Staff Growth, Supervision and Evaluation
Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) section 5(1)
Education Act, Section 213
- “PIDA” means the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act;
- “superintendent” means the Superintendent of Schools;
- “designated officer” means the superintendent or designate of St. Albert Public Schools to manage and investigate disclosures under PIDA;
- “commissioner” means the Public Interest Commissioner appointed under PIDA;
- “employee” means an individual employed by the school board;
- “disclosure” means a disclosure of wrongdoing made in good faith by an employee under PIDA and this Whistleblower Protection Policy A-170;
- “wrongdoing” means:
(a) a contravention of an Act, a regulation made pursuant to an Act, an Act of the Parliament of Canada or a regulation made pursuant to an Act of the Parliament of Canada,
(b) an act or omission that creates: (i) a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of individuals other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of an employee, or (ii) a substantial and specific danger to the environment,
(c) gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset, and
(d) knowingly directing or counselling an individual to commit a wrongdoing mentioned above “reprisal” means any adverse employment action taken against an employee who seeks advice on making a disclosure, makes a disclosure, or co-operates in an investigation of wrongdoing, or declines to participate in a wrongdoing in accordance with PIDA. Examples of reprisal include dismissal, layoff, suspension, demotion or transfer, discontinuation or elimination of a job, transfer, reduction in wages, change in hours of work or reprimand, any other measure that adversely affects the employee’s employment or working conditions (e.g., bullying), and threats to do any of the above.
1. Receipt of Disclosures
1.1. Employees seeking advice on potential disclosure under PIDA and this policy shall be referred to the designated officer, who shall provide the employee with information on PIDA, this policy, the requirements of PIDA and this policy, and other alternative processes for resolution of the employee’s concern.
1.2. Employees shall make disclosures for the purposes of PIDA and this policy to the designated officer, utilizing the PIDA Disclosure Form attached hereto.
1.3. Disclosures shall provide:
1.3.1 the name of the disclosing employee;
1.3.2 a description of the wrongdoing;
1.3.3 the name of the individual or individuals alleged;
18.104.22.168 to have committed the wrongdoing, or
22.214.171.124 to be about to commit the wrongdoing; and
1.3.4 the date of the wrongdoing.
1.4. The designated officer shall acknowledge receipt of the disclosure to the employee making the disclosure within five business days from receipt of the disclosure.
2. Preliminary Handling of Disclosures
2.1. Where the designated officer is of the opinion that the subject matter of a disclosure would be more appropriately dealt with by a department of the Government of Alberta, an office of the Legislature, or another public entity, the designated officer shall report the subject matter of the disclosure to the designated officer of that other entity.
2.2. Where an alternative process exists for the handling of the subject matter of the disclosure under:
2.2.1 another policy/procedure of the board (for example, harassment Policy A-150 or evaluation Policy D-100 or D-150);
2.2.2 another Act or regulation (for example, human rights or occupational health and safety legislation); or
2.2.3 procedures under a collective agreement or employment contract, and the designated officer is of the opinion that the subject matter of the disclosure would be more appropriately dealt with under that alternative process, the designated officer may refer the disclosing employee to those procedures.
2.3. Where the disclosure:
2.3.1 is clearly frivolous or vexatious, has not been made in good faith, has not been made in a timely enough manner to permit an investigation, or does not deal with a wrongdoing;
2.3.2 relates to a decision, action or matter that results from a balanced and informed decision-making process on a public policy or operational issue, or
2.3.3 does not provide adequate particulars about the wrongdoing to permit the conduct of a fair and effective investigation, the designated officer may decline to investigate the disclosure.
2.4. If more than one disclosure is made of a single wrongdoing, the designated officer may conduct a single investigation into the wrongdoing.
2.5. The designated officer shall advise the employee making the disclosure whether the disclosure will or will not be investigated within ten business days from receipt of the disclosure.
3. Mandatory Disclosures to Others
3.1. If the designated officer reasonably believes that the matter to which the disclosure relates constitutes an imminent risk of a substantial or specific danger to the life, health or safety of individuals, or to the environment, the designated officer shall as soon as reasonably practicable refer the disclosure to the Commissioner.
3.2. Notwithstanding whether a disclosure is referred to the Commissioner, where the designated officer is aware of:
3.2.1 a disclosure relating to an imminent risk of a substantial or specific danger to the life, health or safety of individuals, or to the environment, or
3.2.2 the alleged wrongdoing, if true, may threaten the welfare of students, staff, or the safe and caring environment of the school, the designated officer shall also ensure that appropriate persons within the school board have sufficient information to act to abate that risk.
3.3. Where, at any point following a disclosure, the designated officer has reason to believe that the alleged wrongdoing, if true, could potentially give rise to the superintendent being of the opinion that the welfare of students is threatened by the presence of the teacher, the designated officer shall advise the superintendent of the alleged wrongdoing for consideration of a possible administrative suspension under section 213(2) of the Education Act.
3.4. Where in the course of an investigation the designated officer has reason to believe that an offence has been committed under an Act or regulation of the Province of Alberta, or under an Act or regulation of the Parliament of Canada, the designated officer shall report the potential offence to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
4.1. The designated officer shall conduct all investigations in accordance with the principals of natural justice and procedural fairness.
4.2. The designated officer may utilize internal personnel and resources, and may retain outside personnel or resources, for the purpose of conducting the investigation.
4.3. The designated officer, and any person conducting an investigation on their behalf, may interview any person and shall have access to any documents of the school board necessary for the investigation.
4.4. Where, in the course of an investigation, the designated officer has reason to believe that another wrongdoing has been committed or may be committed; the designated officer shall investigate that other potential wrongdoing as if a disclosure had been made.
5.1. The designated officer shall provide a written investigation report to the superintendent detailing whether the disclosure was substantiated, and providing recommendations on corrective action.
5.2. The investigation shall be completed and the written investigation report provided to the superintendent no later than one hundred and ten business days from the date the disclosure was received.
5.3. Where the designated officer is considering a recommendation to the superintendent that the superintendent exercise authority delegated to them by the Board of Trustees to suspend or terminate a teacher or administrative designation under the Education Act, the designated officer shall consult with other board staff typically responsible for such recommendations concerning the necessary process. In such an event, the written investigation report shall be provided to the superintendent in the course of any process under the Education Act for the superintendent to consider that recommendation.
5.4. The superintendent shall consider the recommendations in the investigation report, and shall be responsible for determining what action, if any, including disciplinary action, shall be either taken as a result or recommended to the Board of Trustees. The superintendent shall follow-up with the employees responsible to ensure those actions are taken.
5.5. The person making the complaint shall be advised when the investigation is completed, the recommendations made in the written investigation report, and the superintendent’s actions resulting from the written investigation report.
6. Extensions of Timelines
6.1. The designated officer may request the superintendent, and the superintendent may grant extensions of timelines within this policy, provided that the total extensions granted do not extend the overall time period for investigation and provision of the investigation report by more than 30 business days.
6.2. The superintendent may request permission from the Commissioner to extend timelines for a longer period.
6.3. In the event of an extension of a timeline, the designated officer shall promptly advise the person who submitted a disclosure of wrongdoing when they may expect the next procedural step to occur or be completed.
7. Conflicts of Interest / Disclosures About the Superintendent
7.1. In the event the designated officer is in a conflict of interest with respect to the nature of the disclosure or any person involved in the disclosure or alleged wrongdoing, the designated officer shall request the superintendent to designate an alternative designated officer for the disclosure. The alternative designated officer shall have all the powers of the designated officer for the purpose of the disclosure.
7.2. In the event of a disclosure to the designated officer concerning the conduct of the superintendent, or concerning which the superintendent has a conflict of interest, the designated officer shall:
7.2.1 advise the Board Chair of the nature of the disclosure, whereupon the Board of Trustees may authorize an investigation into the disclosure; and
7.2.2 advise the Commissioner of the disclosure and its referral to the Board of Trustees, and seek advice from the Commissioner concerning whether the disclosure should be referred to the Commissioner.
8.1. The designated officer shall ensure all disclosures, and information gathered in the course of investigating disclosures, including the identity of the person making the disclosure, those alleged to have committed the wrongdoing and witnesses, are maintained in confidence and disclosed only:
8.1.1 as necessary for this policy and to conduct the investigation in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice;
8.1.2 in accordance with PIDA or any other statute; and
8.1.3 when the disclosure of that information is necessary due to an imminent risk of a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of individuals, or to the environment.