The following President's Letter was written by OECTA York Units' Liz Stuart. It was published in the unit's Sentinel newsletter. Many of you have been forwarding this article to me. It certainly is worth sharing with all the readers.
Liz seems well aware of + appreciates the value in our discussions here on the blogsite between OECTA members, past + present, and our many colleagues from the other teacher affiliates. Rather than try to try to hide, deny or censure the problems and different feelings that have been expressed with OECTA Provincial, the Disciplinary Panel and the Brock dismissal under the usual code of silence, they are being openly discussed in a teacher free speech forum. Likewise Liz acknowledges what the Brock concerns are to her members rather than try to hope that they will just somehow go away if left unspoken and ignored. Bravo!
Anyway, here is President Liz Stuart's letter from the OECTA York Sentinel:
It is amazing to me that the older I get the faster time seems to fly! We are already heading fast and furiously to November. The start of the school year was interesting, but nowhere was it more interesting than in Halton. You are all aware, through the wide distribution of the new @OECTA publication, that the President of the Halton Elementary Unit was removed from his position as the result of a discipline panel decision by provincial OECTA. This decision has created much concern across the Province, and should also be concerning to each of us. Concerning, not only because of the overly harsh penalty, but because of the deeply flawed process in which the provincial executive engaged in making this decision. The Provincial OECTA Handbook contains the rules and regulations by which, through the AGM, the Association has determined to govern itself. When the rules of the handbook are not followed, or are ignored the Association, as a governing body, is diminished.
According to the handbook the Provincial Discipline Board is to be established, as are all provincial committees, by the provincial executive. It is by their authority and theirs alone by which individuals can be appointed to the Discipline Board. However in the case of Richard Brock the members of this Board were not selected by the provincial executive. Therefore the panel that heard the case against Mr. Brock was not a duly constituted discipline panel. While on the surface this may appear to be a technicality it has much deeper repercussions. Any member who is brought before a discipline panel should be assured that the panel hearing the complaint has been duly constituted, and confident that there be no appearance of bias. In this case the ‘appearance’ may have been a little blurry as the chair of the panel was the past president of one of the complaining units. The absence of an open and transparent process has left many members feeling sceptical of the ability of the Association to act in a fair and impartial manner on behalf of ALL members. It has also exposed the Association to judgement and ridicule of other affiliates. This became apparent in the blogs posted by a retired OECTA member, David Chiarelli, and the many responses posted by teachers across the province. Ignoring the concerns of the mishandling of the process followed to deal with this complaint is simply NOT acceptable.
Rather than addressing the concerns the provincial executive has decided to take no action and to wait for the matter to be brought before the civil courts. We have certainly urged the executive to take action. We have asked that they act in the manner we hoped they would when we elected them to lead this Association! Acknowledge that an error was made and undo the decision, follow the process outlined in the Handbook and have the complaints (made in good faith) heard by a duly appointed Discipline Board.
The Provincial Executive needs be less concerned with weakening a legal argument in a court of law and more concerned with further weakening the reputation (and solidarity) of the Association, both internally and externally! The old saying “Act in haste, repent at leisure!” is particularly appropriate in this instance. The entire case against Mr. Brock was expedited, it is possible that had cooler heads prevailed we would not be in the mess in which we now find ourselves.
Moving forward we as an Association need to turn our minds toward ensuring there is a truly open and transparent process when a complaint has been filed. This process needs to be clearly understood by both complainants and respondents before the hearing begins. We would accept nothing less from our employer, and as an Association should always exemplify best practice.
We will continue to inform the membership of this matter as it unfolds, and will continue to insist that our provincial leadership demonstrate integrity above all else!