Former school counsellor Scott Montgomery is advocating on behalf of fellow SD 71 employees who claim to be victims of workplace bullying.

Former school counsellor Scott Montgomery is advocating on behalf of fellow SD 71 employees who claim to be victims of workplace bullying.

SD 71 responds to claims of workplace bullying

Advocate for school staff 'perplexed' with trustees' attitudes regarding allegations

  • Mar. 9, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

A former counsellor with the Comox Valley School District is advocating on behalf of fellow SD 71 employees who claim to be victims of workplace bullying.

Scott Montgomery knows of at least 10 teachers and assistants who have been “humiliated and degraded” by their employer.

He would not name names.

“The people who have shared these (stories) with me are terrified,” the retired elementary school counsellor said. “They’re afraid they’re going to be faced with further discipline.

“Nobody’s opposed to the idea that employees sometimes need to be disciplined, but this is more than discipline. It’s nasty,” Montgomery added.

“I’m extremely concerned about this.”

Montgomery met with school board chair, Tom Weber,  and superintendent Sherry Elwood last week to air his complaints, to no avail.

“I asked the question, ‘What is the response of the board to the concerns that I have raised regarding workplace bullying?’ The response was that the board is comfortable with what they have in place at the present time regarding workplace bullying, and that there would be no action.”

Montgomery is also “perplexed” by the reaction, or lack thereof, by local school trustees when he spoke to them, prior to his meeting with Weber and Elwood regarding bullying in the workplace.

Elwood notes the dilemma presented by people who come forward with third-hand conversations.

“We take them all seriously, and when we have the ability to investigate with concrete and specific information, we do,” said Elwood, noting policies and procedures are in place for employees who feel bullied to report concerns.

She also notes Bill 14 (Anti-Bullying Act) covers employees with workplace concerns. The CDTA, CUPE and ESSPA unions represent members who file bullying concerns.

“Sometimes in the complexities of an adult workplace, some folks have a hard time distinguishing between supervision and discipline,” Elwood said. “Even within those concerns, there are mechanisms that are about keeping employees safe, and we take that very seriously.”

Edina Johnston, another former SD71 employee, quit after being subject to “disrespect and horrid behaviour” by the school district.

“Something changed over the last five years, and I personally witnessed a caring and compassionate, green-around-the-gills principal turn into a tyrant between school years,” said Johnston, who was a senior custodian in the school district.

“I’ve also witnessed staff forced to quit, along with several principals and teachers who have had to take medical leave for stress-related illnesses in order to survive. My experiences with our school district have been traumatizing to say the least. No human being should be subject to tactics employed by this employer. Obviously the school district anti-bullying policy pertains only to students and not to staff, and it’s a shame that our school district does not think it important to practise what they teach.”

Elwood says Johnston would know that a board policy about workplace bullying and harassment has always been in place — even before Bill 14.

“There is language in both collective agreements (teachers and CUPE) that speaks to harassment and bullying in the workplace,” Elwood said. “There have always been mechanisms before the recent focus on student bullying.”

Along with a district-level policy within the collective agreement process, Elwood notes teachers and CUPE employees also have a grievance process mechanism.

“That has always been in place for them to bring those concerns forward. Their union representatives take those matters seriously, as does the senior staff of the district and certainly as does the board.”

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read