Dozens of private schools in Ontario have been given a failing grade by the Ministry of Education. What the data shows is that a number of institutions have been fraudulently handing out diplomas to their students. As well, the provincial auditor has accused some schools of handing out higher grades than deserved and course credits despite a lack of attendance. What has resulted is an increase in the oversight and a higher level of scrutiny of the inner workings of Ontario institutions. This means there is an increase in the need for improved private school insurance protection. The appearance of wrongdoing or possible fraudulent activity can pose a risk to an organization.
Perception of Fraud can Cause Action
As a privately run educational institution, your reputation is of utmost importance to ensure continued support from parents and the community. The possibility of fraud can affect that reputation, whether it is founded on truth or not. Private school insurance can help to mitigate the risk of possible action, should the community level accusations at your institution.
Recent Findings Have Raised Levels of Concern
Due to the ministry’s findings, all schools have been put under the microscope. Because privately funded institutions aren’t required to adhere to the same standards as publicly funded schools, they are far more exposed to risk than their public counterparts. For example, there is no provincial oversight when hiring teachers:
- They need not be certified by the Ontario College of Teachers
- No criminal background check is automatically obtained
This area of risk puts considerable attention on the administration and their practices. Parent groups and local community organizations are looking more closely at the internal actions of these schools. This puts added pressure on private school insurance policies to address the threat of legal action against staff, administration and the board.
Beyond Private School Insurance
As stated earlier, reputations are on the line. Parents are being more vigilant when it comes to selecting their children’s education. Also, they will be looking more closely at other areas of service, such as on-site child-care centres. This can mean added scrutiny to the fire safety requirements, hiring practices and background checks, staffing qualifications, etc. While your school may be operating in good faith and take full responsibility and pride in the way it operates, parent groups may be more critical.
It’s important that you discuss your current private school insurance policy with a specialist trained to look for gaps in coverage. In the event of a lengthy court case, you need to be able to provide for legal expenses and loss of income. No matter how your organization operates, perception of fraud and reputation are all that matter.