Oakville teacher sent home as school determines how to deal with controversy
The Halton District School Board will bring in an outside adviser to help it navigate the controvery that began once educator Kayla Lemieux's pictures surfaced online.
At a Wednesday meeting, trustees at the board approved a motion that it "retain the services of a special adviser for a temporary engagement to work with the director, senior administration and the board of trustees to refocus their efforts."
The motion was originally brought forward and passed during a private session of the board on Wednesday, which intends to focus efforts "to achieve the foundational elements of the multi-year strategic plan."
The controversy all began in September 2022, when an American radio hosted tweeted multiple images of the teacher that had been previously shared on Snapchat by students at Oakville Trafalgar High School.
The clips showed a woman with long blonde hair, wearing tight tops and what appeared to be a prosthetic breast piece with protruding nipples.
Last week, Lemieux told the Star that her comments in a recent New York Post article were accurate, and that she does not identify as transgender. Instead, she says she was born intersex and struggles with a medical condition classified as "gigantomastia," which has resulted in an excessive growth of breast tissue.
Parents at Oakville school where controversial teacher works launch legal fund https://t.co/LrzeuUmPWT #Oakville— blogTO (@blogTO) March 1, 2023
After months of controversy, Lemieux is now on home assignment, although she is technically still an employee of the Halton District School Board.
A joint statement from board chair Margo Shuttleworth and HDSB director of education Curtis Ennis reads, "we acknowledge that although it has been a difficult time for the HDSB, the idea that the sole purpose of this special advisor is to focus on one specific situation is inaccurate."
"Our focus is to continue to evaluate our way forward," the statement continues. "To help us do this with a fresh set of eyes, we have chosen to bring on a special advisor to provide advice on refocusing our efforts in a positive way that is respectful of all our students, staff, parents/guardians and community and reflects our values."
The HDSB is working towards finalizing a preferred candidate, and sources have told the Star that the adviser is a long-time labour and employment lawyer who has government and private-sector experience.
The school board has also picked up considerable heat for bringing in an outside adviser, with some parents claiming that this move is equivalent to shifting the blame.
Parents have also criticized the board's "professionalism policy" that was ordered by trustees in January, claiming that it's not specific enough and only affirms exisiting standards.
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