MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)

New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

B.C.’s new minister of education, Jennifer Whiteside, is standing behind her predecessor and calling for a Chilliwack school trustee to resign.

“I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague Minister (Rob) Fleming’s comments on the matter. It is time for Mr. (Barry) Neufeld to step down, full stop,” Whiteside told The Progress. “Time and time again, his reprehensible comments make it clear that he should not hold the role of school trustee and should not be in a school setting.”

Whiteside was sworn in as minister on Nov. 28, and Fleming was moved to the Ministry of Transportation. He had spoken recently to CBC about Neufeld prior to the cabinet shuffle and said there is a “toxic environment created around the (Chilliwack) board table renders that board really dysfunctional.”

There have been at least two petitions created to remove Neufeld.

One that was created in response to his using a derogatory term on his Facebook page has gathered more than 12,000 signatures in two weeks.

“After slandering our local paper and reporters, and continuing to be incredibly insensitive to any minority group in our community, I call for Barry Neufeld’s resignation, and preferably removal as school trustee for SD33 for his continued use of offensive language and complete disregard for decency in our community,” wrote the petition’s creator, Lisa Sweet, a parent in Chilliwack.

But when it comes down it, the minister of education does not have the legal ability to remove a single trustee. The only action currently available to the minister would be to remove the entire school board. The next general election for municipalities and school boards is set for the fall of 2022, and when boards have been removed in the past a single appointee has been put in place in the interim.

Many have written to the Ministry of Education to ask for new legislation that could remove a single sitting trustee under extraordinary circumstances.

As the new minister, Whiteside has been receiving those letters.

“With Mr. Neufeld still sitting on the board and espousing his hateful views, students and staff are not able to learn in a safe and inclusive education system and that is unacceptable,” she added. “If he does not do the right thing and step down immediately, I am looking at all possible options to make sure students and staff in Chilliwack feel welcome in their learning environments.”

Neufeld is currently under censure by the Chilliwack school board for comments he made about Canada’s medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam. He is also not allowed to attend Chilliwack schools, due to comments made about the LGBTQ community. And most recently, the school board voted to exclude him from the rest of their in-camera meetings for the school year, because he breached confidentiality and refused to recuse himself in a discussion for which he had pecuniary interests.

Despite being removed from most of his duties as a trustee, he will receive his regular remuneration for the entirety of his term. He can still attend public meetings and vote on matters in front of the board.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school board censures controversial trustee Barry Neufeld


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Chilliwack School District

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Pictured is Britany Bignham, a Cranbrook hairstylist who is one of 16 top stylists in the running for the Ultimate Stylist competition - an online international hair and beauty competition. She is pictured behind her chair at the Hair Mob. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Cranbrook hairstylist vies for top prize in international competition

Britany Bingham is one of 16 finalists in the Ultimate Stylist competition

Kimberley RCMP detachment seeking information after female teenager grabbed by masked man.
Teenaged female grabbed by masked man on Kimberley trail

RCMP seeking witnesses or information

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

City staff has passed an order requiring remedial action on a building that was severely damaged by fire last fall. Trevor Crawley photo.
City council orders remedial action on vacant buildings damaged by fire

City council has issued a remedial action order relating to vacant buildings… Continue reading

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read