Manitoba school board's troubles intensify as 3 trustees quit days after superintendent fired

Stephen Jaddock was removed as superintendent of Dauphin-based Mountain View School Division in a special board meeting held Friday. (Mountain View School Division - image credit)
Stephen Jaddock was removed as superintendent of Dauphin-based Mountain View School Division in a special board meeting held Friday. (Mountain View School Division - image credit)

Inner turmoil of a Manitoba school board currently under a provincial review has exploded as three trustees say they're resigning just days after other board members voted to fire the superintendent.

Stephen Jaddock has been removed from his role as superintendent of the Dauphin-based Mountain View School Division (MVSD), according to a Monday news release from the division's board of trustees.

Jaddock told CBC that a vote held in a special board meeting Friday resulted in his "termination without cause," but declined to comment further.

Trustees Jason Gryba, John Taylor, Kerri Wieler, and Paul Coffey voted to remove Jaddock during that meeting, according to Leifa Misko — one of three trustees who did not attend the Friday in-person meeting but notified the board of their resignation on Monday morning.

Misko says the board's current environment has made it "very difficult" to properly represent all of the communities and students that the division is supposed to.

"Not all voices have been appreciated, respected or welcomed at that board table," she told CBC on Monday. "It was no longer effective to remain sitting at the board table."

The board member of 13 years says the group has always been able to work together, even through disagreements, for the betterment of all students.

"This past year has not been the case," Misko said. "It has not improved. It's gotten worse."

Floyd Martens, who served on the board of trustees since 1992, shared his notice of resignation with CBC on Monday. He told the board in an emailed statement that his departure was "effective immediately."

"The conduct I have witnessed by board members is not something I can support or continue to be associated with," the statement said.

The board's longest-serving member says it was not an easy decision to leave, but the school board's recent troubles do not benefit the communities they serve in any way.

"The [provincial] government initiated a review of the school division," he said Monday. "I think we should hear the results … and see any solutions that the province may have in regards to restoring Mountain View."

Both Martens and Misko declined to comment on what led to Jaddock's firing. Scott McCallum, another board member, also resigned following the firing.

'Power struggle' led to resignations, chair says

The province launched a governance review of MVSD in April, after trustee Paul Coffey questioned funds for reconciliation initiatives, said residential schools "were good" and that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is causing division during a board meeting that month.

Manitoba Education Minister Nello Altomare told CBC in a Monday statement that the province's review is still currently underway, but deferred any comment on Jaddock's dismissal to the school board.

Gabe Mercier, chairperson of the division's board of trustees, says Jaddock was removed because the former superintendent proposed a change to his salary and his contract was ending in June.

However, Martens said Jaddock's contract was "ongoing" and did not have an end date.

Mercier, who is serving his second term on the MVSD's board, says the subsequent trustee resignations came in light of conflicts between them and newer trustees who were elected in 2022.

"There was a power struggle between the old guard and, let's say, the new kids on the block," he said. "And so the people who resigned are actually the old guard."

He says the province's review is an opportunity for the board to learn.

"The Department of Education review might … say things that will help us firm up our board policy, but right now I'm very comfortable with our board policy."

Mountain View School Division
Mountain View School Division

Frances Chartrand, the Manitoba Métis Federation's vice-president of the northwest region — which includes Dauphin — says Saturday was the second annual Pride parade that the MMF held in partnership with the school division, which began outside Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School.

She says parents and teachers with MVSD told her Jaddock's support of the city's Pride parade on Saturday had a part in his dismissal, and her phone has been ringing all day Monday from more parents and teachers wanting to talk about it.

"Why would they fire him the night before the Pride parade?" Chartand said.

"Parents are scared [about] what will happen to their children that attended the Pride parade? What will happen to many of their families that were seen at the Pride parade?"

Mercier denies the claim.

"I don't know where they got the information. What happened on Friday had nothing to do with the parade," he said.

Chartrand says she hopes the provincial review leads to change at Mountain View.

"I hope that they restructure the governance that they presently have there," she said.

"We all want to be on the same [page], where we fight racism and we fight hatred in our communities."