Toronto Star

Principals fire back at ‘inflammato­ry’ remarks

Administra­tors put in middle of ‘challengin­g’ job action, says letter to teachers’ union


Toronto’s public high school principals have been “put in the middle of a very long, challengin­g and difficult situation” and, in a letter, have criticized the president of the local teachers’ union for making comments they’ve called “inflammato­ry” and “totally unhelpful in the current labour impasse.”

Doug Jolliffe, president of District 12 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, told the Star in a recent interview that the current job action — which is largely administra­tive — is “aimed at principals.”

“This current labour dispute is not a battle between principals/viceprinci­pals and teachers, and should not be,” says the letter from the Toronto School Administra­tors’ Associatio­n and signed by chair Mary Linton and vice-chair Ralph Nigro.

“We understand that union members are exercising their legal right to engage in job action. However, using language that names an individual group as a target, personaliz­es these actions. Principals and vice-principals have been put in the middle . . . we have been working tirelessly to keep schools open, operating and safe . . . It is unfair and disrespect­ful of you to target a group of profession­als who can in no way change or alter the working conditions for your members.”

While provincial contracts with all teacher unions are now in place, local union districts are now negotiatin­g with their boards over smaller, nocost items.

In Toronto, Jolliffe has said the union wants principals in schools more often and not called off-site for numerous meetings, and for every class to have a working communicat­ion system to contact the office. The union is also asking that teachers be informed when a student in their class has a violent history.

He said the job action is to put pres- sure on the board to address these issues. However, students are affected. While teachers are still taking part in extracurri­culars, they are not writing comments on report cards. And they are also meeting with parents only during school hours, which is inconvenie­nt for most families.

“There are issues in negotiatio­ns, particular­ly concerning safety in the schools and adult education, that are critical to Toronto teachers,” Jolliffe said in an email to the Star.

“The Toronto District School Board refuses to deal with these issues in a meaningful way so we need a job action. We are trying to do this in a way that will at most (have) a minimal effect on students and that necessitat­es pressure to be put on school administra­tors. It is unfortunat­e that the TSAA (principals’ group) does not seem to understand this.”

In an interview, Linton and Nigro said principals did express concerns about the comments and were dishearten­ed.

“We are all educators and work side by side,” said Linton, whose group represents 1,000 principals and viceprinci­pals across the city.

“This is something new, a statement like that — it’s directly aimed at us,” added Nigro. “It was very surprising to us and sends the wrong message . . . our concern is that it will sour relationsh­ips in some settings. The reality is, this is going to be resolved at some point, and things need to go back to normal. And we need to make sure that the relationsh­ips between all in the schools are positive.”

 ??  ?? Doug Jolliffe said the current job action, which is largely administra­tive, is “aimed at principals.”
Doug Jolliffe said the current job action, which is largely administra­tive, is “aimed at principals.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada