News / Toronto

School boards group try to clarify the role of teachers

The provincial association that oversees Ontario’s public school boards is seeking legal advice to define the job of a teacher.

“Boards faced with job action are certainly trying to understand and seek clarity on what is voluntary and what is required,” said Michael Barrett, the newly elected head of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, which represents 31 boards. “It’s not clearly defined within the Education Act what is voluntary and what is required.”

Bartlett says the association asked for the legal analysis after getting requests from a number of boards.

“There is pressure from parents, pressures from the community, even some pressure from the ministry to understand what job action is taking place and what action boards are supposed to be taking,” said Barrett.

But he says there is no intention of using the advice to force teachers to participate in curriculum nights or staff meetings, which together with extra curricular activities have been the focus of teacher job action since the passage of Bill 115.

“We want the minister to recognize the issue that has been created by the enactment of Bill 115 and what it means to each board,” said Barrett. “We didn’t create this and now we’re the ones, again, facing the prospect of trying to resolve this.”

In the Toronto public board, several schools postponed curriculum nights, also called meet-the-teacher nights. “Should any parents want to talk to their child’s teacher, they can call the school and leave a message for that teacher,” said spokesperson Ryan Bird.

In some Durham elementary schools, absent teachers left work out in the classroom for students and parents to review together using instructions on the blackboard.

And in Peel, some open houses have been postponed, while others have gone ahead without all the teachers. Spokespersons for both boards say they didn’t ask the association for its legal advice.

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