School board has ‘abdicated its responsibility’ to impose professional standards, Burlington and Oakville MPPs say
Published February 28, 2023 at 7:36 pm
The MPs for Burlington and Oakville believe the Halton District School Board (HDSB) has “abdicated its responsibility” to impose professional standards amid a months-long controversy about a teacher wearing what appear to be large prosthetic breasts at work.
In a joint statement issued on Feb. 28, Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre, Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford and Oakville – North Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, condemned the school board for “failing to put the interests and safety of students first.”
The controversy stems from the attire of Oakville Trafalgar High School teacher Kayla Lemieux, who has been wearing large prosthetic breasts to class for the last several months.
Lemieux’s attire quickly sparked controversy about its appropriateness in a classroom environment. Numerous demonstrations have been held outside the school in opposition to Lemieux’s continued employment. The school has also received several major threats, including bomb threats. As result, the school is now often host to a police presence.
The HDSB has spent several months weighing options on dress code revisions. Initially, they said human rights and labour law protected Lemieux and any other teacher’s right to dress how they wish.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce Lecce and the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) have found the HDSB has an obligation to make sure teachers meet the “highest professional standards,” while at work. Lecce and the OTC have voiced their disappointment in the board’s handling of the matter.
Lecce and the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) have found the HDSB has an obligation to make sure teachers meet the “highest professional standards,” while at work. Lecce and the OTC have voiced their disappointment in the boards handling of the matter.
Amid this growing pressure the board instructed Director of Education Curtis Ennis to draft a dress code in January. However, in a board meeting on March 1, HDSB trustee will instead recieve a report asking for months longer to determine next steps.
Shortly after news of the new report broke, area MPPs Crawford, Pierre and Triantafilopoulos released a statement echoing Lecce’s concerns and calling on the board to impose professional standards.
The three MPPs, Progressive Conservatives all, said “The [HDSB] has a to students, parents and staff to provide a safe, healthy and encouraging place to learn.”
“Following numerous threats to Oakville Trafalgar High School,” the MPPs continued, “we echo the statements made by [Lecce], the HDSB has abdicated it responsibility to put the interest and safety of students first.”
“Parents have every right to be frustrated by the lack of leadership displayed by the HDSB,” the said.
However, the report set to appear tomorrow stresses no changes can be made to teacher’s working conditions because of ongoing negotiations with the teachers union.
The board has taken pains not to directly link the report or policy to Lemieux directly.
With files from Steve Pecar and Gene Pereira.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising