TORONTO, Nov. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Secondary School Teachers'
Federation (OSSTF) will begin strike action across the province today,
and has directed its members to refuse any assigned supervision
duties. While principals respect the collective bargaining process and
the roles that the government, school boards and unions have to play in
resolving contract issues, the withdrawal of supervision as a result of
this strike will jeopardize student safety.
"The only way to ensure that students are safe is to have an adequate
number of teachers and trained adults supervising in the school every
day. If this supervision is withdrawn, or if on-calls for absent
teachers are not covered, schools will not be safe places for
learning," said Ken Arnott, President of the Ontario Principals'
According to principals, the vast majority of suspensions are a result
of incidents that occur in areas of the school that are difficult to
supervise. Without any supervision, students will be especially
vulnerable. "In secondary schools, inadequate supervision can result in
an increase in bullying, vandalism, assaults, behavioural issues,
theft, graffiti, drug activity, truancy and verbal abuse," added
While the impact of sanctions will vary from board to board, the OSSTF
has also indicated that its members are not to administer
government-mandated EQAO tests; attend any staff, board or ministry
meetings; or communicate with parents after school hours. Some local
unions have indicated they will not complete report cards. All of
these actions will have an impact on students and their parents, but
the most immediate concern for principals and vice-principals is
keeping schools safe.
The strike will also impact elementary schools, as support staff in a
majority of public school boards across the province are members of
OSSTF. That will mean that supervision may also be restricted in
elementary schools for children as young as 4.
The OPC has been advocating for increased supervision for many years,
developing and releasing Supervision Standards for Schools in 2007. At
that time, data was collected from over 1400 principals and
vice-principals who reported major challenges in their schools due to
inadequate supervision, the most dangerous consequence being the direct
risk to student safety.
In many boards, principals have been directed to supervise the school in
the absence of teachers and support staff. This will leave principals
unable to adequately perform responsibilities such as dealing with
emergencies, board matters, discipline issues, individual student
concerns, parent needs and instructional duties. Not only is this
alternative an impossible substitute, but it is clearly not the way
that school leaders, hired to be the instructional leaders in schools,
should be spending their time.
Many boards have developed contingency plans outlining how principals
are to proceed during the strike. Some of those plans include
directions on hiring temporary staff to fill the void, a process that
will be costly for budget constrained boards and lengthy, given the
background checks required.
"School principals cannot keep their schools safe or adequately manage
their schools once this strike starts," continued Arnott. "The
government and the unions, in consultation with school boards, need to
resolve this impasse and leave the kids out of it.
"While the government and school boards share our concerns and have
indicated that they are not prepared to jeopardize student safety, any
short-terms measures to try to deal with this strike will not be
sustainable if supervision is withdrawn," added Arnott.
The Ontario Principals' Council is the professional association
representing over 5,000 principals and vice-principals in the
province's public elementary and secondary schools. Established in
1998, the OPC advocates on behalf of public education and provides
professional supports to its Members.
SOURCE: Ontario Principals' Council
For further information:
Senior Communications Consultant
Ontario Principals' Council (416) 322-6600