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

Yellow Point Ecological Society releases video advocating for the protection of private forests

The group is concerned about the loss of forests in the Yellow Point area

LSS improv program gives students an opportunity to be themselves and entertain others

The Ladysmith Secondary School improv program has planned two weeks of shows for the community

New Sonic the Hedgehog trailer shows off Ladysmith and new character animation

At long last, Sonic the Hedgehog will hit theatres on February 14

Diamond District woman warns against the use of rat poison

At some point between breakfast and lunch Martin had suddenly collapsed and died

Calling all believers: Chemainus Theatre Festival runs Miracle on 34th Street

Opening night is Friday, November 15, and closing is December 29

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

Most Read