Arbitrator Donald Munroe recently confirmed the authority of principals to determine whether teachers may pursue individual professional development activities as opposed to professional activities planned by school professional development committees.
In two related grievances, the union argued that only the committees have the authority to approve individual professional development activities as an alternative to activities planned by the committees for teachers at a school. The school board took the position that it is the principal, as the school manager and the employer’s designated agent, and not the school committees, who has the authority to determine whether a teacher is excused from participating in the school-level professional development activities planned by a committee.
Relying on the wording of the collective agreement and management rights, arbitrator Munroe concluded that the collective agreement did not authorize the school professional development committees to approve a request from a teacher to opt out of the committee’s organized school-level professional development activities and instead engage in alternate self-directed professional development activities. Instead he confirmed that a school board, through its principals, has the authority to make these decisions.