MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She has now appointed two special advisors to evaluate the Chilliwack school board. (Black Press)

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She has now appointed two special advisors to evaluate the Chilliwack school board. (Black Press)

Special advisors appointed to evaluate Chilliwack school board

Minister of Education also starting review of the province’s school act

Two special advisors have been appointed to evaluate the Chilliwack school board.

Jennifer Whiteside, minister of education, announced Tuesday that she has appointed Lynn Smith, QC, and former Surrey school superintendent Mike McKay. They will act as special advisors to evaluate the board’s “commitment to a school system that is safe, inclusive and welcoming to all students and staff.”

Whiteside has also directed ministry staff to immediately begin a review of the School Act. They will be considering changes that ensure the actions of elected trustees support safe and inclusive schools for students and staff.

Several groups had asked for the removal of either Trustee Barry Neufeld, or the entire board as a whole. Others asked Whiteside to review the School Act and its lack of a recall process. Whiteside, and her predecessor Rob Fleming, have both publicly asked Neufeld to resign.

READ MORE: B.C. Education minister, Chilliwack-Kent MLA-elect call for Neufeld to step down

The School Act enables the minister of education to appoint special advisors to review the affairs, performance, and/or other matters of a board of education. Government can also replace an entire board with an official trustee. That trustee would be in place until the next election, currently set for the fall of 2022.

“The well-being of students and staff in our education system is my highest priority and must be the highest priority of school trustees as well,” Whiteside said. “That is why I am taking immediate action to ensure the decision-making of all trustees at the Chilliwack Board of Education support student achievement and wellness, and that all trustees are adhering to the board’s code of conduct.”

As special advisors, Smith and McKay will review the following and report to the minister:

– the board’s ability to work co-operatively to fulfil its duties;

– the board’s ability to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive school community for all students and staff, regardless of their background, ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression;

– the extent that actions of trustees in their role are consistent with the human rights of students and staff;

– the adherence of trustees to the board’s code of ethics; and

– the board’s relationship with members of the school community and the effects of these matters on student achievement in Chilliwack.

Whiteside said both appointees “have strong and complementary skills that will support their evaluation of the board.”

McKay served in multiple roles in the B.C. school system, including as principal, superintendent, official trustee and special advisor. Smith served as a justice of the B.C. Supreme Court for 14 years and earlier as professor and dean at the University of British Columbia faculty of law. Two of her areas of specialty have been the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights law.

They will work in partnership to submit bi-weekly progress updates to the minister and provide a final report after their review is complete.

Under the School Act, special advisors may enter schools and district offices, and can inspect board records. The board and its employees must assist the special advisors in carrying out their duties.

The appointment of the special advisors begins immediately. Their review will be complete on or before Feb. 28, 2021.

READ MORE: Chilliwack teachers respond to trustee’s ableist slurs


@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

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Fraser Health adds 4 first-come-first-serve vaccination clinics to Surrey

First 1,000 people to show up to receive vaccine

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
‘Obviously, he’s a fighter’: Golden eagle, recovered from poisoning, back in Kootenay wild

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

Capt. Jenn Casey died in a crash just outside of Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. (CF Snowbirds)
Snowbirds to honour Capt. Casey, who died in B.C. crash, in 2021 tour

Tour will kick off in Ontario in June before heading west

A pedestrian wearing a mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 is bundled up for the cold weather as snow falls in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, February 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snow possible in mountain passes as cold front hits southern B.C.

Much of B.C.’s southern interior will see temperatures plunge from highs of 30 C reached over the weekend

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
Wildfire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares, BC Fire Service on site

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)

Most Read