École Mountainview’s Parent Advisory Council has reacted with shock to the announcement that school principal Eric Gearey is being transferred out the school over to Uplands Elementary School.
Coast Mountains School District 82 this week announced that Gearey will take over the position of vice-principal at Uplands as of January 1, 2020, while Uplands Elementary’s current vice-principal Cindy Sousa will move over to École Mountainview to take over Gearey’s position.
In a post on Facebook, École Mountainview’s parent advisory council (EMV PAC) executive assured parents that it would be “seeking information” on their behalf.
“We believe that it’s important that we hold our (school) district accountable for changes that may not be in the best interest of the French Immersion program and our children,” reads the post.
“We feel strongly that our administration and faculty positions should be filled with bilingual staff, especially in leadership positions.”
Coast Mountains School District 82 acting superintendent Janet Meyer said in a press release dated Dec. 2 that Gearey and Sousa are both “passionate educators and administrators who have a reputation for working tirelessly towards positive learning success for all students.”
“Please be assured that the school district will be providing the support necessary to ensure that a safe and successful learning environment for children remains the focus of the school,” Meyer wrote.
”Your understanding and patience is appreciated as we transition through this school administration change.”
When asked for reasons behind the decision, Meyer says she can’t comment because the district has a legal obligation to protect the privacy of their employees — not because they’re withholding information from the public.
However, Meyer says she’s informally met with the EMV PAC twice to discuss their concerns about the transition since the announcement was made.
“After the first meeting, I was left feeling very optimistic in terms of our ability to communicate with one another effectively, and to work together for the best interests of students at that school.”
Speaking generally, Meyer says she has had success working as a principal in a dual-track French Immersion school without being a fluent French speaker.
“I was still able to be supportive of the French Immersion program and its goals, and supported the learning of those students as well. All of our principals are life-long learners in my opinion,” she says. “I believe that a person who isn’t fluent in French this year could become fluent given some time.”
Meyer says she stands by the district’s decision, and parent concerns will be addressed in time.
“This decision, in my opinion, will not deteriorate the quality of education that children receive at École Mountainview. It will not deteriorate the future of French Immersion in our school district.”
Gearey has been the principal at École Mountainview since September 2017 after beginning at the school as an intermediate French immersion teacher in 2009.
Sousa was previously the principal at Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton and was initially expected to take over as Skeena Middle School’s new principal amid several administrative changes at the school district last summer.
Following outcry by the school community and demands for transparency, the district announced a one-year transition plan to ease into the leadership changes, which affected nine administrators at the time.
Sousa was then appointed to the vice-principal position at Uplands Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year.
The Board of Education will soon have a conversation with Meyer on what the one-year transition plan will mean for administrators.