Education minister snubs apology request for ‘personal attack’ on superintendent

By | March 15, 2019

The Winnipeg School Division asked for an apology from Manitoba’s education minister but got a cold shoulder instead.

The WSD’s board of trustees called for the apology from Kelvin Goertzen for comments he made about the school division’s chief superintendent, Pauline Clarke, being paid too much.

The minister is trying to divert attention from the cuts he is making in education by singling out one superintendent … as a scapegoat to blame for all the problems in the school system.– WSD chair Chris Broughton

Rather than that, however, Goertzen, offered advice to the trustees.

“I think the Winnipeg School Division should focus on the job of supporting students and working for students,” he said on Friday.

“I think they should focus on the work that they were elected to do as trustees.”

The offending comments against Clarke were made during question period in the Manitoba Legislature on Thursday. The NDP’s education critic, Matt Wiebe, quoted a teacher who was concerned about the provincial government closing down the Curriculum Support Centre — a library of classroom materials for teachers.

Goertzen responded by saying teachers should be more concerned about Clarke’s salary.

“This was an uncalled-for personal attack on a public civil servant who cannot speak in their own defence,” said WSD board chair Chris Broughton.

“The minister is trying to divert attention from the cuts he is making in education by singling out one superintendent among dozens in the province as a scapegoat to blame for all the problems in the school system.”

The board wrote to the Speaker of the House, requesting Goertzen apologize during Friday’s question period.

Goertzen made no apology, or even reference, to the matter during question period. Only when asked by reporters afterward for his response to the WSD’s request did Goertzen offer his blunt reply.

Broughton said he and the rest of the board fully support Clarke and her pay, which he said is “reflective of her education and experience, particularly her unique experience working with inner city students and schools.

“Our students, parents and staff are extremely fortunate to have such a skilled and compassionate leader,” Broughton said.

The board of trustees has not yet replied to an interview request about Goertzen’s response.