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School activist faces roadblock in making a presentation to Board trustees

'Thus, unfortunately, we are unable to add your name back onto the presenter's list'
2019 0623 near north district school board logo on wall 1 turl
Near North District School Board logo.

A vocal activist when it comes to Near North School Board policies, Karen Matthews says she is being denied the opportunity to make a presentation tonight when the issue of Widdifield closing will be up for debate.

It boils down to a policy that Board employees can't lobby.

The outspoken Matthews has registered to speak but received an email today from board Communication Officer Mairghread Knought that said, "It has been brought to our attention that you are a contract employee with the Near North District School Board as a Student Supervisor. The Board By-laws state that "Employees of the Board, or representatives of employee groups shall not utilize Delegations to the Board to express their views relative to their employment or professional interests

"As such, we have removed your name from  the list of presenters for tonight's meeting."

Matthews shot back.

"I am not, in fact presenting to “utilize Delegations to the Board to express (my) views relative to (my) employment or professional interests. My presentation is not related to casual part-time lunch supervising and I have no professional interests. I am speaking as a concerned parent and the precedent has been set by the Board in allowing me to present on a number of occasions. Please add me back into the list of presenters."

Knought disagrees and used a recent Ombudsman report to support the ban.

"Please note that while you may have presented in the past, following the recommendations contained in the Ombudsman's report the Board is focused on ensuring consistent adherence to established policies, procedures and by-laws.

"Thus, unfortunately, we are unable to add your name back onto the presenter's list."

It looks like a confrontation at the meeting is inevitable.

Matthews wrote back, "Please advise how it goes against bylaws. I am not a delegate. I am a concerned parent/individual. I am not a contract employee and as such am not caught by the collective agreement, therefore, there are no terms of contract suggesting I can’t raise concerns of inadequacy as a concerned parent.

"I will be prepared to speak this evening."

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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