The provincial organization of parent advisory councils is asking the Chilliwack school board to consider reviewing their codes of conduct, after a trustee launched a letter-writing campaign against a local volunteer parent.
An email was sent from Trustee Barry Neufeld’s private email account on Jan. 1, to an unknown number of recipients, asking for their support in calling out Justine Hodge. The email said Hodge, a current chair of the District Parent Advisory Council, is running for school board trustee in the upcoming election, using her position to push an agenda, and was in “in lock step” with the teachers union.
Hodge says she has no intention of running for school board chair. As chair of the DPAC, she did authorize a letter to the school district outlining why the DPAC believes Neufeld should resign from his position, following a series of public statements against goverment-approved teacher resources. The resources give teachers ways to address sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
The email from Neufeld sent out on New Year’s Day stated “Hodge has joined voices with the radicals who are calling for my resignation” and “I ask that you take Ms. Hodge to task and challenge her opinions.”
And letters did arrive. Many had Neufeld’s original letter attached, included repeated unchallenged information from that letter regarding Hodge and her position, and incorrect information about the proper protocol and duties of parent advisory and district parent advisory councils. Some were so angry and threatening to Hodge that she called the RCMP to begin the complaint process.
The B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils wrote to Hodge after their Jan. 11 meeting to inform her they will be addressing the matter with the Chilliwack Board of Education. They called it “deeply disturbing” that a letter writing campaign would be started against someone personally, because of their role as a chair for a larger body.
— BCCPAC (@BCCPAC) January 14, 2018
“As a recognized partner of the Chilliwack Board of Education, the Chilliwack DPAC is the official representative of the parent voice in your district,” the BCCPAC wrote. “The BCCPAC Board of Directors assert that it is within the mandate and authority of all DPACs to advise on any matter as per the School Act and a letter to inform the board of a decision of the DPAC assembly is well within its rights.”
They added that BCCPAC, along with every other partner in education in B.C., is in support of the use of SOGI 123 by teachers.
“In light of what you and the DPAC are currently facing, the BCCPAC Board of Directors made a unanimous decision at the January 11 board meeting to write the Chilliwack Board of Education to consider a review of the codes of conduct to ensure all members of your school communities – including the DPAC – do not feel intimidated or threatened.”
In addition, they thanked Hodge and the Chilliwack DPAC for their leadership.
“On behalf of the BCCPAC Board of Directors, thank you again for your district leadership and your advocacy on behalf of parents in fostering a culture of acceptance, tolerance of diversity and inclusion in our public schools.”
Neufeld accused the DPAC of not calling a proper meeting, of speaking out to media of their concerns, and not consulting every single PAC group, or the superintendent, prior to discussing their concerns publicly. These allegations are now widespread among Neufeld’s supporters, including an evangelical Christian television and internet personality, despite several attempts by Hodge to contact them for corrections.
Neufeld has not responded to repeated requests to speak to The Progress.