Committee wants minor offences that could bar teachers removed
THE joint select committee of Parliament now reviewing the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) Bill has opted to remove several minor offences under the legislation that would bar teachers from entering or returning to the classroom.
If the recommendation is accepted by Parliament, teachers charged for minor offences such as theft could be allowed to continue in the profession.
Deliberating on the issue at their meeting on Wednesday, committee members contended that there are certain malfeasances under the Bill, considered to be disqualifying offences, that are unfair to educators.
Not all members were convinced, however, that offences should be adjusted, but they eventually agreed to keep only the worst of the worst offences that would disqualify a teacher from obtaining a licence to teach, such as murder and rape.
As part of the review of the Bill, an expansive list of disqualifying offences had been provided by the Legal Reform Department, but committee members said that list had to be revised and condensed.
Government member Tova Hamilton said she could not accept the list of offences in its current form as it would not be practical to keep them all, including the offence which speaks to the larceny of dogs.
“I really don’t believe that we should revoke somebody’s licence because they stole a dog. We have to condense… don’t believe that somebody should be permanently removed from a classroom because they may have taken a dog from somewhere. I think that’s a bit harsh,” she said.
Government Senator Kavan Gayle concurred with revising the list of offences, pointing to the offence of public nuisance, for example.
“Come on, man. What we’re doing here is that we are seeking to capture an expansive set of legislation that have within them certain offences… that should prevent or prohibit someone from carrying out their profession. I would prefer that we stick to those that would appear egregious in nature, grave,” he said.
He also questioned the offence of manslaughter, for instance, in the case of a car accident which led to someone’s death. “Are you going to bar that individual from continuing the profession?” he asked.
“So, I’m saying that there are some offences that are contained under what is being proposed that stretches itself too far in barring the person from becoming a teacher, or from continuing to teach and I would suggest that we consider those that are egregious in nature, those that are violent in nature, as part of the first instance of consideration,” he said.
Hamilton agreed with identifying serious offences such as those relating to children, rape, murder, and drugs, as disqualifying offences, pointing out that “I don’t want us to start nit-picking and going through every possible scenario that can possibly take place, because it wouldn’t make sense.”