A private message exchange between Chilliwack School Trustees Willow Reichelt and Barry Neufeld was made public by Neufeld at a board meeting on Oct. 20, 2020. (YouTube)

A private message exchange between Chilliwack School Trustees Willow Reichelt and Barry Neufeld was made public by Neufeld at a board meeting on Oct. 20, 2020. (YouTube)

LETTER: Chilliwack school trustee decries possible ‘dictatorship of the left’

‘This is heading in a dangerous direction, and spells the deterioration of democracy’

I wish to respond to Jessica Peters’ article “School trustee speaks out about harassment” (Chilliwack Progress, Nov. 5, 2020) in which she asserts that the three of us, Heather Maahs, Barry Neufeld and myself (conservative minority of the school board) are the perpetrators of “harassment,” and have created a “toxic work environment,” while Trustee Willow Reichelt suffers innocently.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack school trustee speaks out about board harassment

Why would Peters denigrate three conservative trustees without giving any of us the opportunity to give our side of the story? Our email addresses and phone numbers have always been available on the school district website.

[*Editor’s note: Trustees Heather Maahs and Barry Neufeld have long declined to respond to requests to comment from The Progress.]

So here is my reply to the claims Peters has made: The truth of the matter is that Reichelt’s constant left-wing political activism, emotional outbursts, denigrating name calling of the three of us (“bigot,” “anti-LGBTQ,” “homophobic,” “Islamophobic,” etc.) and insulting body language and facial gestures while one of us speaks, is by far the major part of the problem with this board. And what is worse is that the majority “progressive” trustees have now made her Chair, something I question because she certainly does not have the experience nor capacity to allow, consider and represent the views of the whole Chilliwack community (especially the large conservative part), something that a good Chair should do.

To get the facts straight, just before Barry Neufeld called Reichelt a hypocrite, Reichelt had made insulting facial gestures towards Heather Maahs while she was speaking to an issue. I believe this is hypocritical and is also a clear violation of the Trustee Code of Ethics. Peters does not mention any of this. Reichelt is only portrayed as the victim. A censure motion could actually be made against Reichelt because of this kind of behaviour, so it is ironic that Reichelt is quoted as saying that if she was an employee of the District, she could “file a harassment case” against Neufeld because of his comment. Perhaps most chillingly, Reichelt wants the Board to have the option “to remove individual trustees” in a majority vote. Given the current Board majority, this is heading in a dangerous direction, and spells the deterioration of democracy in the Chilliwack School District. Trustees will no longer be able to represent the views of conservative communities. Does the Chilliwack community really want a dictatorship of the left on the school board?

Darrell Furgason

School board trustee

• Send your letter to the editor via email to editor@theprogress.com. Please include your first and last name, address, and phone number.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack Progress Letters

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