© Submitted photo
English School Board superintendent Cynthia Fleet
Filing individual grievances, one-on-one meetings make no sense, would be a colossal waste of time
Something doesn’t make sense in the lingering dispute between the Miscouche Concerned Parents Group and its attempts to address concerns at the school. A majority of parents at Miscouche Consolidated School, 55 to be exact, have signed a petition seeking a new principal. Parents have a wide list of complaints and concerns, dating back a number of months. Attempts to discuss those complaints with school board superintendent Cynthia Fleet and Education Minister Alan McIsaac have largely failed.
The issue became public last week only because the group brought its concerns to the Opposition, which used the information to hammer the minister in the legislature.
The two sides in the Miscouche dispute are at an impasse over what seems to be a simple procedure. The concerned parents group wants a meeting with the superintendent and minister to present its case. It’s a reasonable request. But the superintendent has replied that parents must file grievances individually and meet one-on-one with the board. The minister backs up the board’s stance, saying proper procedure and protocols must be followed.
What rubbish. Concerns follow a similar pattern in the school. They can be dealt with as a group. The board might be reticent about meeting 200 upset parents and family members in a public meeting, but this isn’t what the group wants.
Does it make sense for the superintendent and board officials to sit down for 55 separate meetings with parents to hear the same complaints and arguments over and over and over? Or does it make more sense for the board to have one meeting with several spokespersons from the group, let them present their complaints, select representative examples, discuss them and move towards a resolution?
If procedures and protocols are preventing this from happening, then turf them. They don’t make any sense, at least in this situation. Parents are quite willing for two or three members to sit down with the board in a private setting. One can be assured that if parents came in for a one-on-one meeting, he or she would face a phalanx of officials across the table. Why won’t the minister and the local MLA meet with the group’s representatives?
It’s time for the board and government to do the job they were elected or paid to do and make the education of children their top priority.
Report should be released
When is a report not a report? Apparently whenever Environment Minister Janice Sherry says so. The minister is refusing to release the opinion provided by her environmental advisory council on the controversial issue of deep-water wells. She says it’s not a report, simply an opinion which was never meant to be made public. Well, there is a recommendation or opinion from an influential group whom the minister consulted when the request to lift a moratorium on the deep-water well issue first came across her desk in late 2012.
The council obviously wouldn’t come to a simple subjective opinion. It reviewed the science and other factors and came to a sound argument that was presented in a document to the minister. It’s called a report. And she should release it. If an expert environmental group can’t stand by its opinions or conclusions, then Ms. Sherry has bigger problems on this issue than first thought. Ms. Sherry explained she merely asked her council members for their individual views, using them as a sounding board. If all she wanted to hear was the extent of public support or opposition to lifting the moratorium, a public relations polling firm might have been more applicable.