Thursday, March 12, 2009

Superintendent says she has no way of knowing how many teams are on the road - leave it to principal, coaches and volunteers to interpret policy

Find Us on Facebook

On February 27, the Department of Education released new Policies 512 and 513, which replace Guidelines 512 and 513 regarding travel. The new policies were hailed by the Minister, Kelly Lamrock, as a solution to criticism of the way decisions were made for school travel because they entrust the responsibility for decision-making to the District Superintendent.

On the surface, this seems to resolve a number of issues, including the almost daily conflicting interpretation of the guidelines concerning travel.

However, three days after the release of the new policies, the District Superintendent for Moncton, Karen Branscombe, said on CBC Radio Moncton's Information Morning that she is too busy to know what is going on with team travel and that she was going to rely on the principals, coaches and volunteers to interpret the new policies for her:

This is exactly what she said:

"We're relying on the principals to be talking with the coaches and volunteers on a daily basis reviewing what teams are supposed to go where and I've asked them to help make those calls for me certainly I designate it to them I have no way of knowing on a daily basis how many teams are on the road and checking that would be I would be worried that I certainly would miss something without those principals working on that with me."
Karen Branscombe, District 2 Superintendent, March 2, 2009
Source: "New Standards" on CBC Information Morning Moncton Website

You can imagine our shock at hearing the Superintendent saying she would leave the interpretation of Policy 512 and 513 up to the principals, coaches and volunteers. Isn't that what happened on January 12, 2008? We know what the result was, the deaths of our children!!

We Have a Solution to Travel Chaos

As a result of that interview, we have reflected on the role of the District Superintendents. We know that they are busy professionals who have many responsibilites on their plate, as do teachers, coaches, parents and volunteers.

We have a suggestion that we believe should be seriously considered by the government as a permanent solution to the problems raised by school travel and perhaps this is something that both the Liberals and Conservatives will work together on to bring a solution to what we believe has become travel chaos.

We know that the Department of Education has all kinds of employees who are assigned any number of specialized tasks, from assistant deputy ministers to curriculum development, from teachers aides to learning consultants and communications officers. All you have to do is look at the Department of Education website and click on "employees" to see how many people work there and the kinds of jobs they do. Check it out, you'd be surprised to see how many employees there are at the Department of Education. Click here for Employees Directory

We believe it is time to set aside some funds dedicated solely to transportation safety. We believe there should be at least one individual whose sole responsibility is to gather all the information available on weather and travel conditions on days when school children are travelling to and from sports events. This person would be in contact with Environment Canada, Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, the RCMP and local police forces.

This office should be open as long as any students may be impacted by adverse travel conditions and have the exclusive authority to get students off the road including unscheduled overnight stays. This office must be neutral, act on its own decisions and separate from influences of any kind. The responsibilities would have to be clearly defined. and resources re-allocated, but it is an idea that is clearly worth discussing.