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Chilliwack student shocked at censured trustee Barry Neufeld’s appearance at school event

Superintendent says Neufeld, who is not allowed to be around students, was invited by mistake
Chilliwack school board Trustee Barry Neufeld with a blurred out Imagine High leadership student looking for his name on a guest list at the grand opening of the new school on Oct. 13, 2021. (Submitted)

As leadership students and invited dignitaries celebrated at a grand opening event for Chilliwack’s newest high school on Wednesday, the attendance of an unwelcome guest was upsetting for at least one student.

Chilliwack school board Trustee Barry Neufeld’s ongoing “egregious” unethical behaviour led to his censure in early 2020, a decision that included his removal from invitations to all district events where trustees interact with students and staff.

One student, a member of the leadership team in charge of the guest list and welcoming guests, was shocked when he saw Neufeld show up, dressed in a suit with a hat and dark sunglasses.

“I was very surprised when he showed up,” said the student, whose name The Progress is protecting. “He speaks against everything Imagine High is and it aggravated me that he came.”

The student’s mother was similarly upset about Neufeld showing up where he is not allowed.

“A trustee who isn’t allowed in schools was in a school interacting with students today,” she said. “This school has a large population of LGBTQ, disabled and other marginalized kids (who have been) publicly targeted by Barry.”

In an email request to comment sent to Chilliwack school district Supt. Rohan Arul-pragasam, Imagine High Principal Brooke Haller, and Neufeld, Arul-pragasam took responsibility.

“Although he was not on the guest list, we accidentally sent the invite to all trustees regarding the grand opening, and I take responsibility for the miscommunication,” Arul-pragasam told The Progress via email. “To ensure this does not happen again, I have sent a reminder e-mail to Trustee Neufeld regarding the censure. I have made sure that this is added to our checks and balances with respect to the process when we plan for district events that include parents and students, moving forward.”

Neufeld has courted controversy for nearly four years ever since he came out with an anti-LGBTQ+ stance regarding provincial anti-bullying educational resources.

Neufeld also received widespread media attention, and a call from the CTA, Education Minister Rob Fleming and others for his resignation, after he used an ableist slur, specifically the R-word, to insult staff at The Progress.

READ MORE: Chilliwack trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

READ MORE: Chilliwack school trustee under fire again – this time for offensive slur at journalists

Neufeld was censured in May of 2020 for multiple and “egregious” breaches of ethics. Among the four orders included in the censure was the “removal of Trustee Neufeld from invitations to all district events where trustees interact with students and staff.”

Imagine High is Chilliwack’s new arts and technology high school, which opened its doors to students this September.

The school is located at the former campus of University of the Fraser Valley North, on Yale Road.

RELATED: ‘Instant feel of kindness and belonging’: Chilliwack’s Imagine High ready to open, says principal

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