Trustees take heat from angry parents over B.C. principals’ reassignment

School district hears demands during packed board meeting in Terrace

Tears, frustration and anger sparked demands for answers around the school district’s reassignment of three beloved administrators this fall.

After hours of questions and testimony, Coast Mountains School District superintendent and board trustees refused to consider postponing the decision until a recently hired independent consultant, Dianne Turner, completes her review in the fall.

“No, the board will not consider rescinding the decision that was already made,” said board chair Shar McCrory. “Shame on you!” yelled someone from the crowd.

The administrators will be leaving for teaching positions at different schools Aug. 1.

More than 70 teachers, parents, students and officials flooded the school board office on Wednesday, June 20. High turnout forced many to stand or sit on the floor and tables.

Three district directors, including Janet Meyer, Agnes Casgrain and Julia Nieckarz, were absent from the meeting.

READ MORE: Board of Education hires independent consultant to review SD82 reassignments It began with three presentations in defence of current administrators Pam Kawinsky, Phillip Barron and Cory Killoran.

Cal Albright, executive director of Kermode Friendship Society, highlighted the lack of Indigenous consultation in a matter impacting Indigenous student education, while parents Mallory Glustien and Lori Janzen demanded answers to several other key questions over the lack of transparency, consultation and the board’s knowledge of potential impacts.

These are the issues at the forefront of several protests since the school district announced the administrative reassignments on April 25 without consulting parents, teachers, students or other stakeholders.

“We came together, and a synergy developed. We spent hours in timely meetings, sent endless emails asking, writing letters, petitions…Since April 25, we have initiated more than 30 activities in some nature to raise awareness,” Albright said.

Terrace and District Teacher’s Union president Mike Wen asked why the board has not met with the teacher’s union after four requests to discuss 13 identified issues within the district, including a 99 per cent non-confidence vote in the superintendent.

“It’s not just one issue. You’ve heard the angst, the anger and you’ve heard about dysfunction and distrust. You’ve heard statements that clearly indicate that our district is ill,” Wen said.

BC Teachers Federation president Glenn Hansman was also present at the meeting.

During the question period after the regular meeting, for more than an hour board members listened to questions and emotional outpouring of support for the current administrators. Points and questions were applauded, some statements recognized with a standing ovation.

McCrory, who fielded the board’s unified response, said she was unable to answer most of their questions. The trustees were mostly silent throughout the meeting.

“Part of the reason, and you guys can not like it or like it, I don’t — it is what it is,” McCrory said. “It’s a privacy issue and when you’re dealing with personnel, we are very limited to what we can say. The reason why we haven’t said very much is because we can’t.”

READ MORE: School district remains firm on reassignments

One resident questioned why their elected trustees have not answered letters, calls or questions directly, but only through the board chair. A 13-year-old student asked why her principal was being reassigned. Another person with 30 years teaching experience called for a public vote of non-confidence in the board.

Nisga’a elder Josephine Casey stood and calmed the room, but admonished the school district’s silence in response to the public’s questions.

“It doesn’t look good to sit there and shut people out…these little kids, they’re going to remember this day. They’re going to be sitting up here one day and they’re going to remember what happened here,” Casey said. “Don’t do this.”

The public’s final question, whether the district would consider postponing their decision until the consultant’s review was complete, was declined by the board.

“I am not comfortable putting anything forward that is a personnel matter in a public meeting,” said trustee Margaret Warcup.

Then, a Skeena Middle School staff member said all school staff are afraid for their jobs, and the administrators will not feel safe to speak openly with the consultant.

“I’m going to tell you — we’re terrified. As a staff, we’re terrified. Our administrators are terrified. My fear is you’re not going to get an answer out of those two [administrators], because they’re terrified.

But if they know that their future is on hold until after this [consultant] can gain the truth, then maybe they will feel they can speak honestly on this issue. That’s why all of these people are here. We just want things to be transparent.”

Before the meeting was adjourned, Glustien handed McCrory a petition with more than 1,300 signatures from students and community members gathered over the last month.

READ MORE: Community gathers at two Terrace schools to protest SD82


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

More than 70 teachers, parents, students and officials flooded the school board office on Wednesday, June 20. High turnout forced many to stand or sit on the floor and tables. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

Just Posted

Climate strike draws huge crowd in Duncan

Millions strike for climate worldwide

‘Youthful exuberance’ or ‘grievous deed’: opinion is divided on Trudeau’s ‘brown face’ costume

Local Liberal candidate asks voters to concentrate on Prime Minister’s political record

North Cowichan to consider contracts for new RCMP building

Looks to contractors working on similar construction in Fort St. John

Update – Downtown Chemainus streets reopened after Thursday gas leak

FortisBC crews complete repairs along section of Cypress Street

Source of gas leak being investigated

Portion of downtown Chemainus blocked off around the new library

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Most Read