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Students' safety jeopardized, principals warn

Monday, November 12, 2012   by: Staff




TORONTO (November 12, 2012) - 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 If this supervision is withdrawn, or if on-calls for absent teachers are not covered, schools will not be safe places for learning," said Ken Arnott, president of the Ontario Principals' Council (OPC).

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 Arnott.

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 1,400 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.


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Tom_Bom 11/12/2012 3:25:04 PM Report

I suffered 2 concussions in highschool and was jumped like 6 or 7 times. And this was WITH teacher supervision!

If I were a parent, I wouldn't be sending my kid to highschool until this is all ironed out.
Prrrrrrr 11/12/2012 3:43:16 PM Report

Did that happen in THIS town? At one of OUR schools?
Bad Dawg 11/12/2012 3:48:03 PM Report

Supervision is a joke..... even with a teacher watching they still can't tell anyone what happened when a student gets hurt. At my kids school, when an incident happens they look to other students for witnesses, and the problem with this is that students will tell their side not always the truth of events.
Glenave 11/12/2012 4:07:28 PM Report

Fear mongering by pricipals to get parents upset and calling their MP and School Board. Remember, every time teachers get a pay raise, it follows that principals get a raise as well.
KMF61MCF 11/12/2012 4:41:45 PM Report

Management always gets their pay raise first. Then Teaching staff then, the rest of the Employees they treat like second class citizens. If Teachers would use their so called prep time for whats it is intended for they wouldnt be crying every contract time for more time.Instead they are on the phone making hair appointments or Vacation arrangements etc.. they do not need more prep time bunch of over paid cry babies and the kids are the first to pay the price if they dont get there way. They get paid Family day BUT the rest of the Employees have to work it because the Board of Education says they cant afford to pay the rest of them to have it off So pay the higest paid employees to have it off. Teachers dont work Summer or Christmas or March Break. Wow sure makes my heart bleed for them all. Koodos to the Government finally standing up to and putting the Teachers in there place. I also feel like keeping my child out of school until this is resolved
trill_nita 11/12/2012 5:05:56 PM Report

what bothers me is that this should be about the kids and there doesn't seem to be any concern about them..sure the principal says their safety could be jeopardized yet what are they going to do about that? no one cares .. the only care is if they are getting paid, but really this is having a serious impact on the kids...besides its not like teachers are actually doing anything to teach these many kids in school you can't read or spell..and what do the teachers do...say they don't have time or can;t send extra work home and pass the buck...whatever they don't deserve more they need to do more...teachers ( most i have come in contact with ) are just plain lazy these days ....
odawa 11/12/2012 6:00:35 PM Report

The teachers should be ashamed of themselves using our kids to fight there battles.
CLT 11/12/2012 8:00:42 PM Report

Are you serious? If you are I feel so sorry for your child. I hope you dont talk like that in front of them. Poor kid does not stand a chance. What do you do for a living, pick blueberries.
Norm 11/12/2012 8:29:39 PM Report

I doubt if the average taxpayer is in the teachers corner. Times are tough for a lot of people these days, teachers perhaps should undersatnd that.
After all, the taxpayer has been pretty generous with the teachers union.
little lulu 11/12/2012 9:50:45 PM Report

Norm...again with the you have any other valid arguments?? Teachers were willing to take the pay freeze and teachers ARE TAXPAYERS TOO!!! All of you bashers need to do a little more homework or get a life aside from falling for every politicians ploy to vilify teachers.....I love how examples are personal yet used as general and true statements. This is an extremely complicated issue that goes far beyond pay....but I believe I have said this before....
little lulu 11/12/2012 9:55:57 PM Report

KMF61MCF do I detect a wee bit of jealousy??? What great and noble profession have you devoted your life to?? As a teacher I cannot express how disheartening and sad it is to read such an ignorant statement. I love my job, I love the kids and I wouldn't dream of doing anything else. It is not for everyone and those who become teachers for the pay and "vacation time" quickly realize that it's not the cake walk that people like you seem to think it is. I will never complain about my job being hard but until you've done it, you have no say...
BlackHelix 11/13/2012 12:55:25 AM Report

@little lulu

Does this mean that you will not perform any assigned supervision if asked?
By your leave 11/13/2012 6:06:15 AM Report

If teachers and support staff put student safety at risk then there should be a lockout, and a loooooong one at that. Give teachers a little taste of what it's like to live in the real world.
little lulu 11/13/2012 7:23:07 AM Report

I am part of the elementary union...we have not been asked to not perform supervision....this strike action is being taken by the secondary school union in southern ontario....but if asked, I'm not sure what I would do as I work with much younger children...if I was confident that administration was going to take on the supervision, I would follow what the union asked...
JUSTANOTHERNAME 11/13/2012 8:46:03 AM Report

Either the Teachers or the Government needs to sh*! or get off the pot, walk out or lock out. How does anyone profess to love these kids (either side) when you now are admitting you may be putting our children at risk for your own gains. If you can't all act like adults and figure this out then everyone of you go to your time out corner and think about it and you can come out when you are all ready to play nice!
PlasmaX 11/13/2012 9:15:07 AM Report

Little Lulu: I came up with great examples that were based on facts - even referenced them - in the previous article about the strike. Instead of defending your position with your own facts/opinions you chose to call me a venom spewing liberal lover.

Also you played the "teachers have it so hard" card that I see you've been playing in this article to. It is as if every other career is below yours - no one else has had to work a hard day in their life except for YOU.

Again I will state that the reason why some of the posters seem to be attacking your position is not because they think that teacher's don't work hard and shouldn't be well compensated for it. It is because the teachers/union that instigate these strikes never seem to be happy. Every couple years for the last 20 years you hear talks of a possible Strike. People are fed up - and it becomes a personal issue for a lot of people because it is their children that are being directly affected. People are bound to get emotional and make comments they wouldn't normally make (myself included)
little lulu 11/13/2012 1:52:13 PM Report

Hi again Plasma...I actually said that I will never complain about my job...I simply said that it's not always the cake walk that so many on this forum seem to think....I will again say that I LOVE my job is easy, in my opinion, no job has so many perks that the government can step in and start taking them away...I would never dream of commenting on how people in other professions should just suck it up because they have such great benefits and oh so many sick days...I have not been a nurse, doctor, firefighter or IT person so have no right to comment on the way people in those professions should handle any situation....In regards to the sick days...did you happen to see how many boards still give cash pay outs in Ontario? I know that mine does not...Did you also happen to see how the sick days are in lieu of vacation pay which actually saves the government money? Anyways I'm done with the back and have your views and I have mine....unions are there for a reason and if you don't like them that's your choice....
PlasmaX 11/13/2012 2:31:42 PM Report

I don't agree that any government or public sector jobs should give cash payouts at retirement - taxpayers cannot afford it, especially at a time when the economy isn't exactly booming.

As for the sick days in lieu of vacation instead of 4% vacation pay: that was changed some time ago and rightfully so!! How does it make sense that a teacher who is paid a salary wage and gets approx. 8 weeks holidays a year should also get 4% vacation pay on top of that? These type of unnecessary benefits have been taken away from not only teachers but other government jobs over the years because if they weren't we would be living to pay taxes.

If teaching was a private sector job and the board decided to give their employees banked sick time and an extra 4% vacation pay that would be perfectly fine. It's your company and your money - spend it how you see fit. Unfortunately that is not the case and people aren't going to accept paying more taxes so that public sector jobs can get far better benefits then them.
PlasmaX 11/13/2012 2:39:45 PM Report

Also I reading on a blog that is totally against bill 115 and one teacher said they didn't even realize that their 4% vacation pay was taken and converted to sick days. Why? Well because there was no reduction in their cheque amount because of the raises that teachers have been receiving over the last 10 years or so.
girlfriend 11/13/2012 8:45:57 PM Report

Plasma X - you may want to research how other Ontario taxpayers are paid and what benefits they have - might I suggest the MPPs? Teachers were not asking for a wage increase - teachers want the right to negotiate, a basic democratic right. You are a victim of political brainwashing. Clearly your teachers did not teach you to think critically!
PlasmaX 11/14/2012 1:43:46 PM Report

I was only stating a fact the teachers received some nice raises over the last 10 years or so. I wasn't referring to this year or last year - I was making a point about the conversion of their 4% vacation pay - which has nothing to do with bill 115. Also I do not agree that any public sector/government employee should have better job benefits and perks than other employees. The two articles on Sootoday that i've been commenting on are concerning teachers so i guess i've been focusing on that.

Oh yes i must be brainwashed - sorry but no. The bill puts a 2 year restraint period on some of the negotiating so that the wage freeze stays in place! Most teachers I know just deal with it - its only select few and the unions that are crying about it. Most jobs don't have unions - they don't get to negotiate new raises every 2-3 years. They take what they are given, work hard to prove themselves in the company and if they are unhappy then they move on to other opportunities.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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