SD5 board takes public issue with VSB firing

Board blasts the B.C. School Trustees Association's response to the government's decision to fire the Vancouver School board.

  • Nov. 4, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Trevor Crawley

The Southeast Kootenay school district board is blasting the B.C. School Trustees Association’s response to the government’s decision to fire the Vancouver School board.

Mike Bernier, the Minister of Education, fired the VSB on Monday, Oct. 17, and replaced it with Dianne Turner, a former Delta school district superintendent. According to a statement, Bernier fired the board because of the board’s failure to adopt a balanced budget by June 30, 2016.

The letter was addressed to BCSTA president Teresa Rezansoff, who defended Berneir’s decision, and the board of directors.

“As you must be aware, the firing of the VSB impacts all boards of education as it is an outright challenge to the right of democratically elected boards to advocate on behalf of their constituents and a challenge to the right of citizens to be duly represented,” wrote SD5 board chair Frank Lento.

Lento said that the BCSTA has an obligation to intervene, even if it’s to suggest mediation between the Ministry of Education and the VSB.

“We believe our membership deserved a more thoughtful and careful response — one that indicated concern over the situation and a desire to review information and consult with the membership before stating a position, especially given an issue as serious as a board of the second largest district in our province being summarily fired.”

Lento also requested that the BCSTA work with the Ministry of Education to implement procedures geared towards conflict resolution between boards and government while respecting philosophical differences and the democratic process.

Lento’s letter was distributed to every board of education across the province.