The Chilliwack School Board, 2019-2020. (Submitted)

Chilliwack school board minutes suggest legal advice being sought

Board has been divided on next year’s calendar for months, with two trustees in perceived conflict

The Chilliwack School District may be getting legal advice on whether trustees who are married to teachers are really in conflict when voting on school calendars.

The Board of Education has been debating the 2020/21 school calendar for several months, first disagreeing with the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA), and then rejecting binding arbitration. The board consists of seven trustees. Two of those trustees, Willow Reichelt and David Swankey, are married to teachers. Because of this, they have stepped out of discussions on the matter due to a potential perceived conflict of interest.

The vote to reject the binding arbitration has been three-to-two twice now, and discussions have become heated among the board.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school board rejects arbitration ruling on calendar

Earlier this week, the CTA responded to the board’s actions by issuing a vote of non-confidence. They called the decision to reject the arbitration “a bizarre move with no legal basis.”

In the May 12 Chilliwack School Board regular meeting agenda, the in-camera minutes note that the board discussed the calendar privately on April 28. That was their regularly scheduled in-camera (not public) meeting.

Then on May 4, the board held a special in-camera meeting. The only item on that agenda reads: Legal Opinion Regarding Conflict Trustees.

Trustees cannot speak publicly about the in-camera meetings, and the media does not have access to full minutes of those meetings.

Missing from the May 12 agenda is any discussion on the school calendar. Under the B.C. Schools Act, the district must submit a calendar to the Ministry of Education at least three months prior to the start of the next school year. That gives them until the end of May. There is one more meeting before then, on May 26.

READ MORE: Chilliwack teachers issue vote of non-confidence in school board after ‘bizarre move’


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