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

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

Just Posted

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux. (Contributed photos)
BC NDP ‘chose to create a system of chaos’ by holding back COVID-19 data: Cadieux

South Surrey MLAs criticize provincial government after BCCDC documents leak

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Surrey woman a face of World Ovarian Cancer Day campaign in London, New York

‘It’s so important we find better treatments,’ Catherine Eiswerth says

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

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

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read