Teacher Operating Business Through Board
A counsellor receives a call from a teacher who is a consultant. The teacher is being investigated by the police after he billed the cost of materials to the school board through his own company. Canada Revenue Agency is also investigating his tax information over recent years. The teacher is seeking OECTA’s assistance with his legal dilemma.
The teacher was asked to describe the nature of the investigation and any charges that have been laid. In these circumstances, a teacher should not talk to police or an investigator without legal representation. In this case, the consultant established his own business and was billing through this company. It was determined that although he was dealing with his own school board and everything was approved by the board’s purchasing policy he was not acting as a teacher but as a private businessperson while operating the business. As a result, the teacher consultant was not eligible for legal assistance from OECTA in his criminal or tax cases. He secured legal assistance on his own and paid for it himself.
Some teachers incorporate themselves or create private businesses to be a tutor for students or to sell educational materials or supplies to school boards. The question that arises when difficulties occur is simple. Did the teacher’s problem arise because of a teaching incident or in relation to the teacher’s private business? The answer unfortunately is not as clear. OECTA staff and their lawyers investigate and try to determine the nature and source of the teacher’s problem. The outcome can have drastic financial implications for a teacher. Defence of a criminal case can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Teachers who run their own businesses through school boards or with clients that are school boards are advised to insure themselves against liability and legal expenses. Those who hire students to help run these businesses are not necessarily covered by school board insurance. Teacher entrepreneurs should be careful to investigate these liabilities with insurance companies and their boards before starting the business. It is best to get written answers.
OECTA provides assistance to teachers for difficulties that arise from normal teacher related activities, but not for their private business dealings even if they are with school boards.
OECTA examines closely the assistance provided for teachers undergoing College of Teachers’ investigations that have arisen from businesses related difficulties. This assistance and representation is not automatic. This may be an additional expense for the teacher.
Teachers in this position would be advised to read the Education Act, Section 217 and Reg. 298 (25).