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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

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

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Most Read