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Resignations "Irresponsible And Unprofessional"

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1988      p13  
The sudden resignation by six elementary school teachers on the Red Earth Reserve has been called irresponsible and unprofessional by the Chief and Council of the Red Earth Band.

"The unilateral actions of the teachers can only harm their reputations as professional and reflect on teachers generally, and shows a total lack of concern for the 75 students of the school", says a press release made by the Band.

The dispute began when six of nine teachers of the Ki-Waytinuk Elementary School withdrew from their teaching contracts on March 8 of this year. The only forwarning the band received was on March 7, when some of the teachers made demands on the school authorities arising from an unlawful entry into one of teachers homes and the attempted unlawful entry into the homes of the other teachers. The teachers said that guarantees from the Band and the school authority that where would be no re- occurrences and R.C.M.P protection from future unlawful entries.

The teachers were to meet with the Band Council and school authorities on the morning of March 9, to receive Band response to the concerns they raised on March 7. The teachers did not wait for the meeting, but issued resignations dated one day prior to the arranged meeting.

The teachers raised two concerns to be addressed by the Chief and Council.

First, they wanted more security at the teacherages and a guarantee against further unlawful entries.

The Band replied that they could not guarantee that there will be no unlawful entries.

"Unlawful entries are not peculiar to the Red Earth Reserve. Unfortunately and regretably, they are an unpleasant part of everybody's life, whether you live on the reserve, Nipawin, Saskatoon, Regina or any community which has a criminal element in it. The Band would like to give those teachers and all teachers on the reserves, including our own families, the assurance and guarantees that there would be no further unlawful entries on our reserve, but it obviously cannot do so."

The Band was willing to go with the teachers to the R.C.M.P who have now established a detachment on the reserve and support the teachers request for more patrols and security in the teacherages.

The Band has a substantial investment in the teacherages, schools, and educational facilities. Teacherages represent housing which is much superior to any other housing on the reserve. They are provided to teachers while many band members live in substandard housing.

Second, the teachers wanted to move from the Elementary school Teacherages into the High School Teacherages.

The Band had no obligation to the teachers changing their living arrangements. However, the six teachers demanded that the School Authority find accommodations for them in the High School Teacherages.

The Band says, "As much as we would have liked to accommodate this request, we were simply not in a position to force the High School Teachers out of their homes in order to allow the six elementary teachers to move into their homes. On the other hand, the Band did suggest that the High School and Elementary teachers discuss among themselves, arrangements which would be agreeable to all parties involved.

School authorities simply could not have moved the High School teachers without placing the Board in a breach of contract with the teachers. The School Authority would have faced possible legal suits.

In attempting to accommodate the demands of the six teachers, the Band was prepared, in order to prevent any disruption in the education process of their children, to bring in a mutually acceptable mediator or conciliator to explore any and all acceptable solutions to the perceived concerns of the six teachers.

"The actions of the teachers has resulted in 75 innocent students being harmed, the actions of the teachers did not allow for an orderly trasition to substitute or replacement teachers."

The Band Councils and School Authorities main concern now is to recruit replacement teachers. The Band will have to provide costs for the replacement of the teachers. The Band says it does not have the additional financial resources to meet this demand.

Consultations have begun with lawyers to commence legal action against the six teachers for damages flowing from their breach of contract. In addition, the Band will file a complaint with the Teachers Association asking that disciplinary measures must be taken.