Councellor Thorkildsen is in troubled waters

Inga Marte Thorkildsen EducationCity Councillor for Education in Oslo, Inga Marte Thorkildsen (Socialist Party), believes that the working relationship has been difficult with the local Education Agency. The picture is taken in a different context. Photo: NRK

Demands explanation from Thorkilsen regarding co-operation

The Education Committee in Oslo demands that the School Counsellor, Inga Marte Thorkildsen (Socialist Party), document the cooperation problems she allegedly has with the Education Agency in the capital.

 

The School Counsellor in Oslo, Inga Marte Thorkildsen (SV), had to explain the cooperation relations between her and the Education Agency in Oslo in a meeting with the Culture and Education Committee in Oslo on Thursday evening.

It became known earlier this week that several leaders in the agency have been whistle-blowing regarding Thorkildsen’s behaviour, which is described in very strong words as being «offensive, intimidating, hostile, degrading and humiliating».

Thorkildsen reposted on Wednesday and stated that the relationship with the management of the agency has been difficult for a long time. In a written statement to the media on Wednesday, Thorkildsen wrote that she has «missed openness and welcoming of academic input as well as political guidelines» from them.

Criticised

During the regular monthly meeting of the Culture and Education Committee in the Oslo City Council on Thursday, Thorkildsen had to endure criticism for not having informed the committee of the cooperation problems before she spilt the beans to the media. She was also asked to document what policy guidelines the Education Agency had not complied with.

Thorkildsen stated that she for several reasons could not provide information on specific issues at the meeting. This the opposition, headed by the Conservatives, reacted strongly to, and the committee unanimously agreed that Thorkildsen must come back to the committee with a satisfactory explanation.

– The Councillor has uttered rather serious allegations regarding her own employees and whistle-blowers. Therefore, we have asked her to document these. We have not received any information regarding what she is basing these allegations to the press on – and I believe that is serious – since there are fairly comprehensive notifications against her, says Saida Begum (Conservatives) to NTB.

Iffy

Begum says that there is a lot which is iffy with the matter.

– During the committee meeting which was held a month ago, the selfsame Councillor stated that she had a very good working relationship with the Education Agency, and now, just one month later, we read this in the press. She must have misled us the last time around, it is either that or what she comes up with now, which is incorrect. On top of that, the Internal Audit stated in February of this year that the Education Agency acknowledges political wishes, whereas the agency says the cooperation problems have been going on for several years, she emphasises.

Begum asks Thorkildsen to provide real-life examples of which political city council decisions or political instructions provided by budget documents or letter of intent that have been sabotaged.

Has Johansen’s confidence

The City Council Leader, Raymond Johansen (Labour), is at a climate conference in San Francisco this week and has up till now not made a comment on the matter. In a text message to NTB on Thursday evening he writes:

– The Oslo City Council Leader believes that the City Council department can resolve the conflict that has arisen after the Education Agency’s notifications concerning Inga Marte Thorkildsen. I am aware that we over time have had challenges in the dialogue with the Education Agency regarding management. I am confident that this is handled in a good way by the department and School Councillor, Inga Marte Thorkildsen.

Johansen writes that he can not comment on the whistle-blower case against Thorkildsen as such.

– The administration has started a thorough assessment of how the matter will be dealt with. They will eventually come back with their assessments, says Johansen.

Søgnen did not appear

On questions from NTB about how the Councillor foresees how she and the management of the Education Agency can cooperate in the time to come, Thorkildsen states that she can not comment on that at present.

– But it is something we’re working on and wish to come back to later, says Thorkildsen.

She will not answer if she can rule out that the leader of the agency, Astrid Søgnen, has to step down as a result of the conflict.

– I do not want to discuss any workplace-related issues in the media, she says.

Søgnen normally attends the regular meetings in the committee but were not present on Thursday.

Thorkildsen does not think it is appropriate for her to step down while the notification case against her is being dealt with.,

– No, I have heard nobody say that, and least of anyone, the City Council Leader, I, therefore, assume I don’t have to do that, she continues.

 

© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today

 

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