Food fight, fires in wake of extended teacher work to rule action

Police are investigating two fires and the administration is looking into a food fight - all of which occurred over the past 24 hours at South Carleton High School in Ottawa.

Police are investigating two fires at an Ottawa high school – one on Nov. 12 and a second this morning.

The fires occurred at South Carleton High School during a period when some teachers are refusing to supervise students in open areas of secondary schools across the province, including Ottawa.

The job action, which has not occurred in all schools, is part of provincial teachers’ work-to-rule campaign against the McGuinty government.

In addition to the impact on extracurricular activities, on Monday some teachers began withdrawing additional supervisory services to protest measures by the province to freeze wages and claw back sick leave.

Three police cruisers were parked outside South Carleton High School on Tuesday where in the past 24 hours two small fires broke out: one in a washroom and the other in a hallway.

Frank Wiley, a superintendent with Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, said he is uncertain if the fires were deliberately set.

"I can’t answer that question at this stage of the game. I don’t know," said Wiley. "We are investigating that right now."

The superintendent did confirm a food fight occurred in the South Carleton cafeteria Monday, but Wiley would not speculate whether that incident was sparked by labour trouble between teachers and the province.

Some South Carleton students, however, believe there is a direct link.

"That’s why people are lighting garbage cans on fire and food fights and all this other crap that’s going on right, it’s because of the teachers," said Jeff Craig.

"I know guys, they’ve gone out and bought all new football equipment and baseball equipment and hockey equipment and you can’t even use it now," he added.

Student Mike Egan is also frustrated and suggests teachers are using students as pawns in the current labour dispute.

"The teachers, they do their own thing and their reaction to what’s happening to them is to basically screw us over," Egan said. "And not do extra curriculars and stop their voluntary stuff that basically needs to happen."

Superintendent Wiley said it’s clear the board is facing a challenging situation and that student safety remains a top priority.

"We are working to ensure the students attending our schools are first of all safe, and they are healthy and in their classroom and they’re learning," he said.