In the initial question period of the Jan. 15 Chilliwack School Board meeting, Jenn Smith—who’s from Abbotsford—tried and failed to convince the Board to allow him to make a presentation on behalf of an anti-SOGI delegation he supports. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

In the initial question period of the Jan. 15 Chilliwack School Board meeting, Jenn Smith—who’s from Abbotsford—tried and failed to convince the Board to allow him to make a presentation on behalf of an anti-SOGI delegation he supports. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Anti-SOGI advocate says he’s filed a B.C. Ombudsperson’s complaint against Chilliwack School Board

Jenn Smith says he’s filed a complaint against four trustees and acting superintendent of SD33

An anti-SOGI 123 advocate from Abbotsford has filed a complaint with the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson against four Chilliwack School Board trustees and the school district’s acting superintendent.

“I just came back from Burnaby where I have filed an official complaint with the BC Ombudsperson’s Office against … Dan Coulter, Willow Reichelt, Jared Mumford, David Swankey, and Rohan Arul-Pragasam,” wrote Jenn Smith on his blog on Monday.

Smith, who says he represents a delegation of like-minded individuals, has repeatedly asked the Board for permission to present a talk he believes directly “pertains to the health and safety of the children of Chilliwack,” only to be denied every time.

READ MORE: Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld says he’s the victim of workplace discrimination

“I have yet, in my opinion, to receive a satisfactory answer as to why the delegation that I represent is continually refused the right to present to this Board,” said Smith at the Jan. 15, 2019 Chilliwack School Board meeting.

“The reason we have not accepted your delegation to the Board is that we’ve (been having) this anti-SOGI, or SOGI, debate” for quite some time now,” said Dan Coulter, Board chair. “I’ve seen your presentation before and it’s really nothing new to what we’ve been doing for the last year and a bit.”

But Smith says Coulter is being less than honest in his political practices: “Our complaint cites evidence of a deliberate political and identity-based bias, and that the majority members of the Board are violating their own policies.

“I can provide evidence that Chairman Dan Coulter has lied in an official communication, and that the majority are deliberately excluding input from a large concerned portion of the community,” he wrote on his blog.

“I have told the BC Ombudsperson’s Office that sensible School Boards like Abbotsford have allowed dissenting voices to be heard … whereas the Chilliwack’s Board’s quasi-dictatorship has chosen instead to silence opposing views and thus deliberately foster animosity in the community.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack School District graduating more students than ever before

“I haven’t seen the complaint, but I’ve heard about it,” said Coulter to The Progress during a telephone interview. But “I’m sure the Ombudsperson is a fair person, and if they decide there are certain things we need to change, we’ll change them.”

That said, Coulter says the Board hasn’t received any new written submissions from Smith or the delegation he claims to represent. “But if it’s the same subject matter that the (delegation has taken) to other school boards … the better place for Jenn Smith to take his concerns is to the Ministry of Education … as they have a process in place for challenging resources (such as SOGI 123).”

The Office of the Ombudsperson investigates complaints regarding B.C.’s public services, which includes local school districts. Each year, the Ombudsperson receives approximately 7,500 questions/complaints from the public that result in 2,000 investigations and resolutions.

For more information about the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson, please visit their website at BCOmbudsperson.ca. For more information about the Chilliwack School District and its Board, please visit its website at SD33.bc.ca.


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

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