School board meeting over Oakville teacher’s dress turns contentious as police called, woman ejected
Published February 16, 2023 at 12:48 pm
A Halton District School Board (HDSB) meeting on Wednesday night (Feb. 15) that was set to provide an update on a dress code for teachers got heated and led to police being called in to deal with frustrated parents.
With shouts of “resign” and “shame” coming from the packed gallery, the board discussed a new “professionalism policy” to deal with a controversy over a teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School who has made worldwide headlines for wearing tight clothes showing off large prosthetic breasts to class.
The matter, which began last September, has led to bomb threats made against the school and resulted in a group of parents threatening legal action if a dress code is not made mandatory for teachers.
The frustration at the meeting built after board chair, Margo Shuttleworth, said everyone in the community is being “heard.”
That brought jeers from the gallery and led to Shuttleworth threatening to eject those disrupting the meeting.
“You can sit and listen, or you can leave,” she said.
Shuttleworth would later put the meeting on hold after the disruptions continued.
“I’m going to call a recess and ask some of the people to leave the room, thank you,” said Shuttleworth.
Police officers were called and a woman was removed from the gallery before the meeting eventually reconvened.
As for what the new dress code would look like, the board revealed few details at the meeting. They said a new “professionalism policy” is on its way and a draft should be ready by March 1.
“We are making good progress in the development of this draft policy to be presented March 1,” said Curtis Ennis, HDSB director of education. “I look forward to having that conversation, hearing from community and stakeholders, and determining our next steps.”
Ennis and the Halton school board initially decided against a dress code for staffers with concerns over how that might affect those who are members of the transgender community.
But trustees decided in January to come up with a dress code policy amidst the outcry from parents and others.
Julia Malott, a transgender woman who was the first member of the public to speak at the meeting, agrees educators at all schools should have a dress code.
“So long as the dress code does not explicitly require an individual to present in alignment with birth sex, there should arise no gender expression issue arising out of standards of professionalism,” she said.
Frustration was also expressed by some speaking at the meeting that their concerns are not being heard.
“We want to be heard,” said Rishi Bandhu. “That’s all we’re asking for.”insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising