BC School Trustees Association President Stephanie Higginson continues to condemn Chilliwack School Trustee Barry Neufeld for comments he made last week.
Neufeld used an ableist slur in a Facebook post to describe three Black Press employees, drawing immediate ire on social media.
Higginson tweeted about it earlier in the week, and added more thoughts in a BCSTA news release sent out Friday morning.
“Barry Neufeld’s use of a slur against people with developmental disabilities is reprehensible and reflects poorly on the office he holds,” Higginson said. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time Neufeld has used hurtful language – there is an extended pattern of abusive language that can no longer be excused as a simple slip-up.
“We look to boards of education and school trustees as leaders in our communities to set the examples needed to create supportive learning settings. BCSTA condemns Neufeld’s hurtful language and acknowledges the real harm his words have caused people in the developmental disability community.”
Neufeld is no stranger to controversy, and he has taken significant heat over his latest comments.
Now-former BC Education Minister Rob Fleming and newly minted Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon both called on him to step down this week, and as of Friday morning 11,481 people and counting had signed an online petition supporting his removal from the Chilliwack School Board.
But while there are ways to limit an individual trustee’s influence, there is no way to remove Neufeld from the school board unless he leaves voluntarily or is voted out in the next election.
“The Chilliwack Board of Education has taken steps to censure Neufeld, and I applaud the board’s efforts to clearly signal that the use of such disrespectful and exclusionary language is intolerable,” Higginson noted. “I trust that voters in Chilliwack will note Neufeld’s behaviour and will act accordingly when the time comes to cast their ballots in the next municipal election.”
“Today I am affirming BCSTA’s core values of equality, inclusivity and dignity. We will continue to support boards of education across B.C. in building strong, effective and inclusive governance structures to ensure all students have access to the best public education possible.”
BCSTA serves and supports all 60 B.C. boards of education in their work of improving student achievement, including establishing welcoming, inclusive learning environments for all students.
BCSTA encourages participation in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign to raise awareness of the harmful effect of language on vulnerable learners.
Visit spreadtheword.global for more info.
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