Chilliwack School Trustee Darrell Furgason questioned the board’s adherence to its own rules and regulations when he recommended Trustee Barry Neufeld be reinstated as a school liaison.
Furgason brought the motion to the school board meeting Tuesday evening, asking the board to reverse an earlier decision that denied Neufeld liaison duties because of two outstanding B.C. human rights complaints against the trustee, and concerns over comments he has made about the LGBTQ community.
“I am very concerned, of course, for policy and procedures, which are important,” Furgason said while speaking to his motion. “I want to make three main points:”
“One, there is no policy (outlining an exclusion such as this); two, there is no (formal) process for this action (put into place); and three, there is no legal principle upon which the decision to exclude Barry Neufeld has been made.”
But not everyone on the board agreed that everything needs to be outlined in black and white.
“I think that we need to understand that not everything we (have) to consider is within (the scope of) policy,” said Trustee David Swankey.
“I’d also like to point out that we’re not just subject to our own policy, but also to a legal framework that would include documents like the Charter, to the common law of the Commonwealth, and to legislation that would include things like the School Act, and orders and council.
“My understanding is exactly the same as Trustee Riechelt’s,” continued Swankey. “The chair exercised his duty and had the confidence of the board in his decision to not assign Trustee Neufeld liaison duties, but because that decision had some question surrounding it, he decided to put it to the entire board to ensure there was a consensus.”
“I supported it then, and I support it now,” said vice chair Willow Reichelt.
“Well, I almost feel like I should be absent from the room while this is being discussed,” commented Neufeld.
“I want to thank Trustee Furgason for going to bat for me. I want to emphasize that never, at any time, have I said anything derogatory or negative about any student or adult within our district that is part of our LGBTQ+ network.
“I believe the motivation of the chair behind excluding me was to shame me, and thereby silence me,” continued Neufeld. “Because I have problems with (SOGI 123), I am being sidelined, I am being shamed, and I’m being treated like a dirty old man.
“I will right his injustice one way or another.”
The motion to assign include Trustee Neufeld as a school liaison failed to pass when the vote resulted in a 3-3 tie.