Skeena Middle School students across all grade levels walked out of their classrooms at lunchtime on May 1 last year. (File photo)

Have your say on education

School district to host public consultation in Kitimat

Kitimat parents, teachers and students will have an opportunity to provide feedback on an independent consultant’s review of the provision of education in the school district.

Independent education consultant Dianne Turner was appointed by Coast Mountains School District in June 2019 to look into concerns that were raised by students, parents, partner groups and communities in the wake of a series of unpopular decisions made.

The most contentious of those decisions was the demotion of three administrators to classroom positions – Suwilaawks Community School’s principal Pam Kawinksy, and Skeena Middle School’s principal Phillip Barron and vice-principal Cory Killoran.

Then-CMSD superintendent Katherine McIntosh was criticized for not having consulted the school community before making the decision.

Unhappy with CMSD’s decision, the Kermode Friendship Society (KFS) sent a letter to provincial Minister of Education Rob Fleming asking for the demotions to be overturned.

Fleming replied to KFS that school districts made staffing appointments and changes based on the needs in their schools throughout the district.

READ MORE: New administrators announced for schools

“I empathize with the students who clearly have an appreciation for their current principals and vice-principals at the impacted schools,” said Fleming.

Frustrated with the situation, about 50 students across all grade levels walked out of Skeena Middle School in May, 2019, in protest against the staffing changes.

The students walked out of their classes and gathered outside the CMSD head office in Terrace chanting: “Save our principals!”

READ MORE: Students take to the streets to demand change

In an effort to de-escalate the situation, CMSD stepped in and appointed Turner who started her investigation into the problems besetting the district.

Turner was tasked to gather relevant information and provide recommendations for future actions to CMSD’s board of education in order to address concerns raised within the school district and to identify processes moving forward.

The board received Turner’s report and recommendations on November 27, 2019.

After reviewing the report CMSD decided to host three public consultation forums and has asked the school community to participate in working sessions around the recommendations.

The Kitimat event takes place on Tuesday, February 25, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School library.

The final consultation session takes place in Hazelton on Thursday, February 27.

Click here to download a copy of Turner’s report which is available on Coast Mountains School District’s website.

Anyone unable to attend the consultation forum, or who prefers to submit thoughts electronically, are asked to send an email to CMSD.

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