School trustee’s tweet about parent causes a stir

Chilliwack school trustee Doug McKay took to social media last week to express dismay over a parent's comments at a recent board meeting.

A tweet by Chilliwack school trustee Doug McKay has some in the community up in arms.

The day after last Tuesday’s board meeting McKay tweeted: Parent behavior at board meeting inappropriate. Accuses chair of breaking [school act]. Shame!

While McKay admitted to The Progress that social media probably wasn’t the best avenue for the comment, he said he’d defend the school board chair again in a heartbeat.

“I’m not about to let someone stand up and wrongly accuse the board chair,” said McKay.

The tweet was the result of a comment made by parent Karen Jarvis during the public participation portion of the April 10 board meeting.

Jarvis criticized board chair Louise Piper for seeking legal counsel regarding  trustees participating electronically in public meetings through a web-conferencing system.

Jarvis said the letter by the district’s lawyer, which was included in the meeting’s agenda, was “out of order” because the board chair should not have sought the information as an individual without consulting the other trustees.

However, it was later learned that Piper wasn’t actually the one who sought out the legal advice, but rather it was superintendent Michael Audet.

McKay said it was Jarvis’ comments that were out of line.

The district’s policy on public participation states that public participation is provided solely as a means for ensuring residents have an opportunity to obtain clarification or make a statement concerning the board meeting proceedings.

McKay said Jarvis’ comments were not merely a statement, but an insult to the board chair’s integrity.

“She comes to a public meeting and accuses incorrectly the board chair of violating the school act, someone needs to respond to that,” said McKay. “Everyone is just wandering around with kid gloves on and is afraid to deal with stuff like this. If someone attacks the board publicly, and if the officers of the board are not prepared to defend the board chair, I’m going to.”

McKay said maybe next time he would handle it differently by suggesting the chair rule the comments out of order.

Jarvis refused to elaborate on why she made the comment at the public meeting stating it was not newsworthy. She also declined reacting to McKay’s tweet.

However, District Parents’ Advisory Council president Gord Byers was none impressed with McKay’s public “bashing” of a parent.

“The bottom line here, any parent should be able to speak up, whether right or wrong, about anything,” said Byers. “And trustees should not be turning around on Twitter or Facebook or any other public space and bashing a parent.”

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