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

Chilliwack school board has rejected binding arbitration on 2020/2021 calendar twice

Chilliwack teachers have passed a motion of non-confidence in the school board.

This follows a months-long disagreement about next year’s school calendar. Due to conflict early in the calender creation process, an arbitrator was brought in as per the Collective Agreement. But the Chilliwack Board of Education has now rejected that binding arbitration twice.

The issue is over a one-week vs. a two-week spring break. Three trustees say they believe the break should be short, to help mitigate the impact that COVID-19 has had on classroom time. However, the disagreement over the calendar pre-dates the closure of schools in B.C.

The CTA held a special regular meeting to discuss the matter on Monday afternoon (May 4) and issued a press release the next day.

“The motion of non-confidence was based on the actions of the board in regards to rejecting an arbitration decision on the 2020-2021 school calendar as well as the apparent inability of board members to work together for the good of Chilliwack students,” it states.

The arbitrator’s decision — which was in favour of the calendar submitted by teachers — was given to the district on Feb. 28, and there was a two-week time frame for appeal. The board missed the date to appeal and has discussed the issue twice now in public meetings. Two trustees have chosen to leave the discussion as their spouses are teachers, leaving the board with just five voting members.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school board rejects arbitration ruling on calendar

“On two separate occasions, the Chilliwack Board of Education voted to reject a binding arbitrator’s decision about the school calendar,” said Klettke. “It’s a bizarre move with no legal basis and may actually contravene BC’s Labour Code. On this issue, a voting majority of the board has chosen to ignore a binding decision. The result of this could become an expensive and frivolous legal battle.”

The trustees voting against the arbitration are Heather Maahs, Barry Neufeld and Darrell Furgason.

This arbitration decision originated from a grievance settlement between the Chilliwack School District and the CTA in March 2019 that created a process for discussions around the school calendar, Klettke explains. The CTA, School District 33, BC Public School Employers’ Association, and BCTF agreed that an arbitrator would render a final decision should the parties be unable to come to an agreement. This process was undertaken in February 2020 and the arbitrator made a binding decision that included a two-week spring break.

Klettke added that the board’s decision to reject the arbitration twice “appeared to be based on a lack of understanding of the process of negotiating the calendar and of the legal ramifications of their decision.”

He believes they may have contravened the Labour Code.

“In other words, we believe they are ignoring the law. As elected officials, the board has a job to do and their willingness to ignore an arbitrator’s decision brings into question their ability to properly do their job.”

Klettke explained that teachers are also concerned by controversial comments made by three trustees during discussions on the naming of two new Chilliwack schools.

“Lively debate is one thing, but making ignorant and offensive statements as an elected official is very inappropriate,” said Klettke. “During discussions around the naming of two new schools, members of the board made statements that were hurtful to teachers, parents, and students within the community. These statements went against all of the work our Chilliwack education community is trying to do to honour and act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”

Klettke explained that not all members of the board supported the offensive comments, and the board made the correct decision in approving the names of the two new schools, but there was considerable arguing and antagonism between board members.

“This dysfunction has been evident at many board meetings over the past two years and gives the impression that the Chilliwack Board of Education is unable to work together as a cohesive unit for the good of the Chilliwack School District.”

The CTA also says this is not the time for bickering on a board.

“This is an unusual time for all communities amid COVID-19 and we want to focus on the health and safety of our school community, the provision of services to children of essential support workers, additional support for vulnerable families and students and the continuity of learning for all Chilliwack students.”

They say the board is “continually sidetracked by other issues that damage relationships with teachers, students and parents. The CTA no longer has confidence that ‘partners in learning’ applies in this district at this time.”

The CTA issued a similar notice back in January 2018, amid the controversy around Sexual Orientation Gender Identity initiative, and comments made by Trustee Barry Neufeld.

READ MORE: Chilliwack teachers vote for non-confidence in school board

Press Release – May 5, 2020 by Jess Peters on Scribd


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Chilliwack School DistrictEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Car goes off Highway 1 and into a ditch in Chilliwack

Eastbound vehicle left the highway ending in the ditch on south side of Luckakuck Way

PHOTOS: Historic look at Chilliwack activities we are missing in the pandemic

Images from the Chilliwack Museum & Archives show sporting events everyone hopes to get back to soon

Emergency crews respond to ATV rollover near Harrison

ATV rolled over on or near Harrison East Forest Service Road near Harrison Hot Springs

Guilty verdict for one of two men in large illegal marijuana grow-operation in Chilliwack

Charges dismissed against property owner where 3,200 plants, 32 kgs of dried weed found in 2017

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Langley vigil demands justice for Ontario animal activist killed protesting slaughterhouse

More than two dozen people gathered at Britco Pork to remember Regan Russell, and fight Bill 156

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read