On March 26th, in a show of support for a teacher who was allegedly insulted and degraded by a parent member of the Laval Senior Academy (LSA) governing board, about 40 teachers quietly gathered in the school library in anticipation of the board’s regular monthly meeting. The alleged altercation, which turned into a war of words, according to the teacher, occurred in the staff parking lot prior to the governing board’s September meeting.
Waiting with others for the March 26th meeting to start, Laurier Board commissioner James Di Sano was asked by TLN if he was aware of the reason for the unusually large crowd in attendance. “I have no idea,” he answered.
As everyone waited for the meeting to begin, tensions rose. By 7 pm, four parent representatives were no-shows. At 7:15 pm governing board chairperson Douglas Howarth dismissed the meeting, simply noting – “no quorum.”
As the gathering began to disperse, TLN asked Mr. Howarth if he was advised beforehand that the parents would be absent. “Not all of them,” he answered. LSA Principal Nathalie Rollin, added that there was a last minute call. “I guess they all have the flu,” she stated.
TLN spoke with several teachers in attendance, on condition of anonymity. TLN was told that the teachers had prepared a letter to be read into the record. Addressed to the Governing Board, the letter contained specific requests. The letter will be presented at the April 29 meeting.
Before the meeting was to begin, two teachers requested that TLN refrain from publishing pictures of them in any forthcoming reports. Although no explicit reason was given for the request, it appears to stem from a fear of reprisals from the employer, the Laurier School Board. TLN has also learned from several sources that the LSA principal made a plea for teachers to stay away from the meeting.
Another source, who also asked for anonymity, told TLN “It’s in everyone’s best interest to develop and foster positive and professional working conditions with all governing board members. This begins with effective communication, which seems to be lacking on the Laval Senior Academy Governing Board.
Next day, on March 27th, following the regular monthly meeting of the Laurier School Board, TLN asked Chairperson Paolo Galati if he was aware of what was happening at the Laval Senior Academy Governing Board. “I’m not aware, but I will definitely look into it,” he assured. “I was in the building for another event that evening, but it wasn’t brought to my attention. I should have dropped in,” he added. Asked his opinion on the prospect of having to deal with governing boards who would eventually become the ‘bosses’, according to the government’s intention to abolish schoolboards, Mr. Galati expressed concern and recommended that TLN transmit its view of the situation to Christopher Skeete, the Québec cabinet minister responsible for services to Anglophones. TLN informed Mr. Galati that the tramsmission of these concerns is the purview of the schoolboard, not the press.