Ninety-nine per cent of teachers within the Coast Mountain Teachers’ Federation in CMSD82 have passed a ‘non-confidence’ vote in Superintendent Katherine McIntosh.
On June 5-6, members of the Kitimat District Teachers’ Association (KDTA), the Terrace District Teachers’ Union (TDTU) and the Upper Skeena Teachers voted overwhelmingly in favour of a declaration of non-confidence in the superintendent, who has held the position for the last five years.
A letter signed by TDTU president Michael Wen and KDTA Kim Meyer addressed to Board of Education Chair Shar McCrory, which outlined the reason for the vote.
“As you are likely aware, there has been a difficult relationship between Coast Mountains Teachers’ Federation and Ms.McIntosh,” the letter reads.
“We have a number of concerns about her actions as well as her communications to teachers and other employees of the District. Further, we are concerned that the repercussions of her actions are now creating a divide in the community at large, as evidenced by recent parent rallies.”
The letter continues to ask the Board of Education to discuss their concerns in person.
The concerns mentioned are not detailed within the letter, but likely include the recent reassignment of three popular administrators within the district, announced on April 25.
CMSD 82 said current Skeena Middle School principal Phillip Barron and vice-principal Cory Killoran would be leaving their administrative positions for teaching positions this fall, along with Suwilaawks Community School principal Pam Kawinsky.
An outpouring of confusion, frustration and anger followed from teachers, parents, and community members, demanding answers and transparency from the district as to how these decisions would be in the best interest of students. All three administrators are considered to go ‘above and beyond’ for their children.
Kermode Friendship Society and BC Aboriginal Association of Friendship Centres have also written letters to the Ministry of Education advocating that these administrators stay in their positions.
The letter also says this action was done without any consultation with Indigenous families, which is in violation of their signed Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement with SD82. Suwilaawks’ student body of kindergarten through Grade 6 is 82 per cent Indigenous.
Repeatedly, the superintendent and board chair have said they cannot detail specific information about the reassignments because of privacy concerns.
There have been no allegations of wrongdoing against the administrators from either the district, teachers or parents.
McIntosh has told the Terrace Standard before the non-confidence vote that stakeholder consultation was not necessary because these decisions involved the reassignment of existing personnel within the district, not new hires. Before the votes were tallied, she did say in light of the feedback they are committing to reviewing the district’s process.
Parents are planning to protest the decisions by walking into Skeena Middle School and Suwilaawks Community School between 12:15-12:30 p.m. on June 12. Parents will meet with their students wearing either red, pink or green shirts during the school’s lunchbreak. Afterwards, students will return to their classes. A parent-led petition has also gained 800 signatures to date. A parent-led petition has also gained 800 signatures to date.
The Terrace Standard has reached out to Superintendent Katherine McIntosh and the Ministry of Education for comment.
CORRECTION – Students will not be leaving school for the rest of the afternoon for the protest on June 12 as previously stated in the article. Instead, they will be gathering for a demonstration on the school lawns, returning back to class afterwards.