School District 72 has adopted an indemnification bylaw. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River school board adopts new indemnification bylaw

The board for School District 72 has passed a bylaw offering legal protection for people working for the district.

At the Jan. 15 meeting, the board held a third and final reading, voting to adopt the new indemnification bylaw that ha been recommended by its governance policy committee. The motion passed unanimously.

The board had held two readings of the new bylaw at the Dec. 18, 2018 meeting and a copy of the bylaw was available on the district website to allow a chance for comments.

“It’s been posted publicly,” secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board at the latest meeting. “We’ve received no feedback.”

Chair Richard Franklin told the board in December that generally they would hold the first three readings at once for the bylaw. In this case, they held third reading to create an opportunity to take input.

“That will give our partners an opportunity to respond to this policy,” he said.

The bylaw provides that the board shall indemnify district staff and board members against a claim for damages arising from the performance of their duties; for an inquiry or proceeding involving the administration and conduct of the business of the district; and will pay legal costs incurred in a court proceeding arising out of the claim or such inquiries or proceedings.

“An indemnification bylaw will protect trustees and staff,” Patrick said in December. “If you’re working as a trustee and somebody takes issue and wants to sue for damages, this indemnification bylaw will provide … expenses for defence … so it’s a level of protection for your work as a trustee. We also have employees included in this as well.”

Franklin clarified that the bylaw would not cover staff or trustees in situations where they break the law. Trustee John Kerr agreed, saying, “I don’t think any indemnification covers misbehaviour, wilful misbehaviour.”

He also said that without the indemnification policy, they could find themselves in the situation of defending themselves.

“We didn’t have any recourse to be defended by the organization … that we were working for,” he added. “We all know that litigation costs escalate quite heavily.”

Patrick clarified that people could have been covered, but that it would be up to the board to decide. Some in the district, such as senior staff, had also been covered through their contracts, but the new policy extends coverage to all.

“This is sort of blanket coverage for everybody that’s part of the school district,” he said.