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Chilliwack school board to be reviewed following several controversies

Last Updated Dec 22, 2020 at 4:47 pm PDT

(Image Credit: CityNews)

Controversy has swirled around the Chilliwack school board in recent months, and now a review will be carried out

Retired B.C. Supreme Court judge Lynn Smith and former school superintendent Mike McKay will do the evaluation

The review comes after trustee Barry Neufeld came under fire several times for controversial remarks

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) — The province is taking a closer look at Chilliwack’s school board by appointing advisors to carry out a review.

The Ministry of Education announced the review Tuesday, saying it will assess the board’s “commitment to a school system that is safe, inclusive and welcoming to all students and staff.”

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside has named retired B.C. Supreme Court judge Lynn Smith and former school superintendent Mike McKay to evaluate the board.

It’s been a controversial time for Chilliwack’s Board of Education, with trustee Barry Neufeld, in particular, finding himself under fire several times.

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Neufeld apologized for transphobic comments directed at Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, and more recently, using an ableist slur while comparing reporters to people with intellectual disabilities.

Neufeld’s various comments had been repeatedly met with calls for his resignation, including from Chilliwack school board chair, Willow Reichelt. A petition was also launched aimed at Neufeld’s removal.

The School Act allows for the review, and the provincial government can also replace an entire board with an official trustee.

Review supported by Chilliwack Teachers’ Association

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) is applauding Whiteside’s call for a review.

Ed Klettke, CTA president, says the Chilliwack teachers have been calling for intervention from the minister of education for three years.

“Many members of our community and teachers have lost confidence in the Chilliwack Board of Education to consider the best interests of all students and employees,” he tells NEWS 1130. “It’s wonderful to finally see the education minister take action to look into the inner workings of the board.”

Klettke says the Chilliwack Board of Education has been put in a bad light several times for controversial statements made by several trustees.

He wants the ministry to look into the conduct of the trustees and see what can be done to change the behaviour.

The CTA had also called for Neufeld to resign at the end of November.

-with files from Lasia KretzelĀ