Trustees Barry Neufeld (left) and Darrell Furgason at a Jan. 29, 2019 meeting. (File photo/ Chilliwack Progress)

Trustees Barry Neufeld (left) and Darrell Furgason at a Jan. 29, 2019 meeting. (File photo/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack teachers respond to trustee’s ableist slurs

Teachers’ association calling for Neufeld to resign, board to censure Furgason

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) has joined the call for Barry Neufeld’s resignation.

They passed a motion at a special general meeting on Nov. 24 to call for the trustee’s resignation, and also to recommend that the Chilliwack board of education censure trustee Darrell Furgason.

Neufeld used his Facebook page to call three employees of this newspaper by a derogatory slur, and as criticism grew, Furgason came to his defence. In a Facebook post in a group, Furgason wrote that “many words in English can be used in different ways.”

Furgason also quoted part of a definition of the R-word, and used it himself although not as a directed insult.

“Let’s all stop this virtue signalling by asking for Barry to be ‘removed,’” he added. “I’m sure glad lynching is no longer allowed, lol.”

Education Minister Rob Fleming called for Neufeld to resign, and Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon spoke to media about how the use of ableist slurs can hurt communities.

In their motion, the CTA also voted to lobby the education minister “to enact legislation to provide a code of ethics for trustees, including a mechanism to remove individual trustees in extraordinary circumstances.”

In a press release sent to media, they said the motion was based on a pattern of posts over three years that have culminated in the most recent comments.

“Lively debate is one thing, but making ignorant and offensive statements as an elected official is very inappropriate,” said Ed Klettke, CTA president.

“There is no place in the public school system for language that is offensive, outdated, insensitive and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and respect for students and families,” he added. “Hurtful slurs have no place in the inclusive classrooms of today or in a respectful and caring learning community. Our entire school community needs to support the safety and education of all Chilliwack students.”

He said that even if Neufeld were to resign, it would be a “short-term solution.”

“Mr. Furgason’s attempt to defend these comments highlights a similar lack of understanding and led the CTA to recommend that the Board censure him. It has become clear that a long term solution is also necessary and this led to the decision of the CTA membership to lobby the Minister of Education to make changes to the School Act.”

The Progress has reached out to both Neufeld and Furgason for comment.

READ MORE: New punitive measures for Neufeld over in-camera privacy breach


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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