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Stop closing schools, federation head tells government

The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils (NLFSC) wants a moratorium on the permanent closure of schools until an election of trustees representing the English School District takes place.

Peter Whittle

"Elected, accountable trustees are the cornerstone of our public education system,” Peter Whittle says in a news release.

“It is really unacceptable for a government that promised accountability to further delay the election of school board trustees. They are now allowing unelected, interim trustees to debate and decide the futures of community schools.”

Whittle says by making decisions concerning the closure of schools in the province, the current board of unelected trustees is not adhering to the Schools Act.

"If it were my community, or neighbourhood school, I would be seeking a court injunction to delay any motion to close any school until elected trustees are in place, “ Whittle says in the release.

The NLFSC calls the current situation without elected trustees undemocratic. The council has raised such concerns since the appointment of the current interim board in 2013, which is comprised of 15 non-elected trustees. Those appointments followed the consolidation of four school boards into a single English School District.

“You cannot argue that appointed trustees are elected trustees. Under this current system, there is no accountability to the public,” says Whittle.

“If government wants to shut down schools, let them sign the death certificates themselves and offer some accountability for the decisions being made in a vacuum that only they can remedy.”

The release goes on to say Dale Kirby, the minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, has failed to set a date for the trustee elections despite the council’s frequent requests for him to do so.

The Telegram spoke to Whittle in January about his call for the school board trustee election date to be set by the government. At that time, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said in an email response that the elections will take place within the next 12 months and that preliminary discussions on this matter had begun.



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