Teachers union responds to comments over superintendent’s dismissal

"My initial reaction was not to dignify the comments with a response," said LTA president Gail Chaddock-Costello.

Langley Teachers Association president Gail Chaddock-Costello has responded to suggestions that the union played a key role in the decision by the Langley Board of Education to fire Superintendent Cheryle Beaumont last week.

Chaddock-Costello issued the following press release on Tuesday afternoon.

“Much has been said about Ms. Beaumont’s resignation and many comments have been made about the involvement of unions in this decision. My initial reaction was not to dignify the comments with a response, but as they continue, and I continue to be personally named, I am compelled to reply.

“The Langley Teachers’ Association did endorse candidates to their members in 2008 and 2011. We did not make any financial contributions to any candidates. Teachers, as citizens in Langley, had the opportunity to vote along with all other residents. The citizens of Langley City and Langley Township voted and elected a new Mayor, some new councilors and two new Trustees to the Board of Education. Democracy at work.

“When the previous Board, with a majority of Trustees endorsed by both Langley Liberal MLAs, made unpopular decisions, there was no commensurate hue and cry of interference from the Liberal government. So, I am puzzled as to why now, when the newly-elected Board makes a decision that appears to be unpopular in some circles, members of those circles are quick to point a finger at the unions for the decision of a democratically elected Board of Education.

“The Langley Teachers’ Association and many other citizens of Langley have taken issue with a number of decisions over the past five years. The reconfiguration of South Central, the loss of the only high school in Langley City, the lack of an Audit Committee at the Board level, the failure by Senior Management and the Board to address repeated concerns from their own auditors regarding ‘internal control’ issues, the amassing of a $13.5 million dollar debt, an ‘in camera decision’ to borrow money to purchase a share of the Langley Events Centre (when the District was already in debt), the closure of schools, the decision not to build a new school in the Upton area and many, many other contentious issues – were and continue to be of concern to the LTA.

“Yes, we raised our voice as a watchdog of public education. Yes, we called for the resignation of the superintendent in 2009, and yes, we have continued to voice our concerns whenever decisions were made to cut staff. Why? Because these cuts always lead to cuts in service to students and directly impact those ‘achievement scores’ that have been noted by some supporters of Ms. Beaumont. Interestingly enough, those same supporters neglect to mention Beaumont’s 23 per cent salary increase at a time when teachers are being told they should take 0 per cent and accept further cuts to their contract.

“The LTA has used FOIPPA to obtain many useful and informative documents. We have never breached the law.

“Under section 30.4 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, an officer of a public body who has access to personal information in the custody or control of the public body, must not disclose that information except as authorized under the Act. A person convicted under the Act faces fines of up to $2,000.

“The decision by Ms. (Trustee Alison) McVeigh to do so raises many troubling questions as to her motive or motives. This ‘truth telling’ may well be the reason Ms. Beaumont leaves SD #35 with a larger than originally required financial settlement.”