SD73 investigates Pinantan teachers
Teachers at Pinantan elementary are being investigated by School District 73.
SD 73 superintendent Terry Sullivan confirmed the investigation after “serious allegations” against the teachers were received “relating to inappropriate teacher conduct related to the job action.”
Sullivan said the investigation continued this week.
Jason Karpuk, president of the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association, said he received a letter from the school district on Friday, March 9, advising him students were being interviewed by administrators that day after reports of an incident at the school.
Karpuk said he is unaware of the details and is waiting for a report from the school district.
The school’s principal, Don Poelzer, said he cannot discuss an active investigation.
However, KTW has been told the allegations involve teachers who misunderstood the intent of legislation now being debated by the provincial government to bring to a temporary end job action by teachers and require a mediator try to resolve the contract stalemate.
The allegation is that teachers divided the 48 Pinantan students in half, taking each half into a classroom and telling the students that would be how their classes would exist in the future, and that some of the teachers would be relocated because classes would be so large.
Karpuk said the teachers have been advised to not talk about the situation while the investigation is ongoing.
“What they were trying to do was demonstrate to the students the reality they would be experiencing,” Karpuk said.
Shortly after the incident occurred, a letter and petition were sent to Education Minister George Abbott and copied to Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP Cathy McLeod and the local school board, signed by “parents of the community of Pinantan and Paul Lake.”
The document, with 50 signatures attached, expresses concern the school will be reduced from three classes to two, with kindergarten to Grade 3 in one and grades 4 to 7 in the other.
Louise Harwood, one of two parents to draft and sign the letter, said she created the petition because of fears larger class sizes will result from teachers’ negotiations with the province — and affect her area’s tiny school and its teachers.
“All we are hearing is class sizes will be getting bigger and we were worried for our teachers,” Harwood said.
Harwood said she was inspired by an online petition at thepetitionsite.com/1/kill-bill-22, but wasn’t confident she could get enough Pinantan and Paul Lake people to go online and sign it because of the lack of Internet in the area.
However, in a statement, Abbott said Bill 22, the legislation now being debated to deal with the job action by teachers and the negotiation impasse, “does not change existing class-size limits and, therefore, will not affect the size of the number of classrooms at Pinantan elementary.
“Decisions regarding the size, number and organization of classes in a school are made by principals and school districts in consultation with teachers.”
Sullivan said he has responded to the letter writers by explaining students at Pinantan are in three class groupings: 14 are in a kindergarten to grade 2 class, another 14 are in the grades 2 to 4 class and 20 are in a grades 5 to 7 class.
There are three full-time teachers, a 4.5-hour-per day custodian, a 5.7-hour-per-day school-support worker, a four-hour-per-day rural school-support worker and a full-time secretary.
“So, I feel the staffing there is very generous,” Sullivan said.
There are legislated caps on class sizes — 22 for kindergarten and 24 for grades 1 to 3.
With mixed grades, the lower number is mandatory.
“So, there’s no way we could do what they were worried about, even if we wanted to,” Sullivan said.