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Tough to fire lap-dancing teachers: division

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/3/2010 (2615 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

EVEN if Winnipeg School Division wanted to fire teachers who have become internationally notorious for a simulated lap dance at a student assembly, it wouldn't be easy.

Winnipeg School Division must show cause if it wants to fire a full-time teacher. The division cannot pick and choose which teachers it wants to keep.

Trustee Mike Babinsky told reporters after a closed-door board meeting Monday evening that the division can decide by April 30 whether it will renew or terminate the contracts of two Churchill High School teachers suspended with pay after performing the dance two weeks ago. But there's more to it than that.

The division agreed Tuesday to provide generic information about its contract rights and responsibilities, without making any specific reference to the situation at Churchill.

Division officials also provided information which suggests that it could be paying from $527.84 to $802.64 a day to provide substitutes to cover for the suspended teachers.

Teachers Chrystie Fitchner and Adeil Ahmed have been suspended with pay since performing a lewd dance -- including simulated oral sex -- at a school spirit event in the Churchill gym.

Senior bureaucrats at WSD have not even officially told trustees the teachers' names, and will not confirm reports that Fitchner is a full-time teacher and that Ahmed may be on a term contract.

The division says that "Term teachers' contracts expire at the end of the term specified in their contract or on June 30th of the school year."

But full-time teachers can only be let go by April 30 for termination June 30, or by Nov. 1 for termination Dec. 31 of the current school year.

And they can't be let go arbitrarily -- the division must show cause, or approve layoffs by seniority, but it cannot pick and choose which permanent teachers to keep.

"Permanent teachers are ongoing employees. They are not rehired year to year," says WSD. "If a permanent teacher's contract is terminated, the division must show cause.

"Any layoff of permanent teachers must be done by seniority in accordance with the collective agreement."

WSD said that any suspended teacher is replaced by a substitute who is paid $164.52 a day.

However, under terms of the collective agreement, any substitute who replaces a teacher for more than five consecutive days, will then be paid the same as a regular teacher, depending on the substitute's qualifications and experience.

By using Manitoba Teachers' Society figures for the division's teachers, maximum and minimum salaries based on 193 school days this year work out to $263.92 to $401.32 each per day.

Senior staff have not yet completed their investigation of the lap-dancing incident, which was filmed by students and posted on YouTube.

School board chair Jackie Sneesby says the board has not yet ruled out disciplinary action against the students who filmed the incident, in violation of division policies forbidding use of devices such as cell phone and video cameras in schools.

The board's next meeting is Monday night, when trustees will pass their budget. The next regular meeting is March 15.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Nick Martin.

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