The Halton District School Board tried to clarify its position after media outlets, including this one, reported that stakeholders, including parents and the HDSB vice chair were not happy with a proposed code of conduct paper the board had ordered to be developed by staff. The document was supposed to address the issue of the shop teacher who continues to appear in class wearing gigantic prosthetic breasts, but did not discuss a specific dress code for teachers. Later it was explained that a more precise policy will be developed after responses to an on-line poll are received and after the board has had a chance to study the feedback.
The board issued a statement of principles that read, “”The Halton District School Board has high standards and high expectations of the educators who work in all our schools. This particular policy will consolidate and affirm existing expectations regarding staff professionalism in school settings – and at school-based activities. We take immense pride in the inclusiveness, compassion, and respect for human rights that our students and their families have demonstrated during this time. We will continue to prioritize students by setting an example of a Board that is inclusive, tolerant, and rooted in the belief of upholding human rights for everyone that is a part of this community.” Depending on how one reads the statement it may or may not be hinting that a teacher dress code is on the way.
The late proprietor of one of Canada’s oldest public relations firms, would often say to clients. “Public Relations will never solve an operational problem.” You’ve got to fix the operational problem before the public will begin to listen to PR statements like the one issued by the HDSB.
The board has said it can’t impose new working conditions because contracts talks with teachers are underway right now and work conditions can’t be changed during talks. Maybe not, but here’s a suggestion–impose the code anyway and see what happens. Immediately the burden now shifts to the teachers union. Let them be the one that is defending the teacher’s choice. Let the department of Labour weigh in. Let the education minister, who has signalled that he wants immediate action. Imposing the dress code shifts the burden to him as well.
Instead the board has allowed itself to get tangled up in a morass of process, statements of principles and word salads, and in so doing has completely lost the confidence of the Halton public and become a laughingstock in the international media. Trustees and trustees only, need to make it clear that immediate action is needed, not the current slow drip that is creating such a needless distraction for students.
on one side theres the distraction the teachers appearance is causing. some would say the teacher bears responsibility for the distraction. fine. then theres the other side opposed to this teachers appearance. this side has people that protest outside the school with their children by their side with mobs of people yelling homophobic slurs, anti trans slurs and insults, threatening harm, cursing and throwing the F bomb. this side has people threatening to take action into their own hands. this side has people sending death threats and threatening to kill or sexually assault the teacher. threatening to bomb the school. all these angry, violent people worried about what lessons their kids are learning at school should be more concerned with what lessons their kids are learning from them. irony abounds.
Most thoughtful piece I’ve read on this unbelievably-ongoing situation.