Some tough new sanctions could be added to the Code of Ethics policy for Chilliwack school trustees by the end of April.
The policy is under review as part of a larger effort by the board to complete its regular housekeeping of policies. They year, they are focusing on the 200 policies, which relate to self-governance.
Many boards of education around the province have their own sanctions to follow when a board member breaks the Code of Ethics. But Chilliwack did not have its own set of rules to follow outside the B.C. School Act.
At the April 30 meeting, they will vote on including sanctions that include censures, removal from committees, and exclusion from meetings for offending board members.
The new writing includes line items 15 through 21.
“A breach of confidentiality of Board business or a disclosure of confidential information from a Committee of the Whole or In-Camera board meeting may result in the imposition of sanctions on the offending trustee,” the proposed item 15 states. “Sanctions may include the issuance of a censure, a removal from committees and exclusion from meetings or such other sanction as the Board considers appropriate.”
Prior to imposing sanctions, the proposed amendment states the board will “ensure it follows a fair process, including due notice of the alleged misconduct and a fair opportunity to respond.”
Neighbouring district Fraser-Cascade has similar sanctions and has censured trustees in the past.
Concerns about a trustee’s behaviour would come from individual trustees, the superintendent, or the secretary-treasurer at an in camera meeting of the board.
The proposed changes include that a majority vote would be required to carry forward with an investigation, conducted by an independent investigator. That investigator would report back to the board chair and superintendent, and then that would be presented to the board in camera.
At that point, the trustee in question would be able to provide more information if needed, prior to board deliberation. Decisions would be made without the trustee or trustees in question being present.
There are several points in the Code of Ethics as it is currently written, which dates back to 1991.
Board members are required to listen and respect the opinion of others, and “make no disparaging remarks, in or out of the board meetings, about other members of the board or their opinions.”
They are expected to respect the confidential business of the board, represent the district as a whole instead of individual electors, patrons or groups, and abide by the majority decisions of the board.
The Code of Ethics Policy is one of six that are up for review during the April 30 meeting, set for 7 p.m. at the board office. The meetings are also livestreamed on Youtube.
The full agenda is available at www.sd33.bc.ca. The Code of Ethics policy as proposed is below. The new wording is in red.