Mississauga school trustee getting flack for picture with controversial minister

 

The continuing negotiations between the provincial government and the teachers unions seemingly have no end in sight, with continuing strikes occurring periodically across various school boards in the province over concerns of deep cuts being brought in by the government. 

Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce, a first term MPP who has proven to be an effective communicator, is nevertheless seen as a polarizing figure during these protracted negotiations not only over teachers’ salaries, but also on class sizes and requirements for e-learning through online courses.

It’s in this highly heated political atmosphere that anyone getting caught being seen with Lecce may be tagged with being “guilty by association”, despite whatever intentions that person may have.

Peel school board Trustee Nokha Dakroub, who represents schools in Mississauga’s Wards 9 and 10, recently attended a New Year’s Levee event hosted by Lecce, posing for a picture with the minister. But that act hasn’t gone well with those in the education sector.

Reactions to Dakroub’s picture with Lecce have been somewhat mixed, although most of them lean on the side of condemning her actions.

Dakroub herself later took to Twitter to respond to the negative backlash over the picture with Lecce, specifically reacting to one teacher calling the picture ‘disgusting’.

People are not disgusting and taking a picture with a (cabinet minister) is not a crime, is this what we teach our children? Be a better role model,” Dakroub said in her tweet.

That prompted a reply from the teacher, saying she didn’t think Dakroub was in a position to judge whether she was a positive role model or not, with even a former student defending her.

But putting aside the rhetoric going on back and forth, there may need to be a future, detailed examination into the role of school board trustees.

Are they representatives of the teachers, students, the unions…or are they, in a way, technically representatives on the government side as they are employees of the school board, a body formed by provincial legislation? 

What influence do trustees really have other than advocacy if they don’t really have much say into how these contract negotiations between the province and the teachers?

Other than serving as a stepping stone for higher political office, is it any wonder why some have opinionated on the need for trustees at all?

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