The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association membership voted during its Feb. 15 general meeting to boycott all meetings of the board until they are satisfied the process was appropriate or the suspension is rescinded. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association membership voted during its Feb. 15 general meeting to boycott all meetings of the board until they are satisfied the process was appropriate or the suspension is rescinded. (Black Press Media file photo)

Teachers question legality of suspending 2 Victoria school trustees

GVTA votes no confidence in SD61 board, will boycott future meetings

Teachers and members of the community are calling for the reinstatement of two trustees censured and suspended by the Greater Victoria School Board (SD61) earlier this month.

The board made its decision after two staff members complained about disparaging comments Diane McNally and Rob Paynter made against them last summer, according to a release from SD61.

That decision was met with a strong response from the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA) membership, which voted during its Feb. 15 general meeting to boycott all meetings of the board until they are satisfied the process was appropriate or the suspension is rescinded.

“We are deeply concerned by the suspensions of two democratically elected trustees, and the secrecy surrounding it,” GVTA president Winona Waldron said in a statement. She said it was clear the membership sought a strong response to the suspensions with a vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees.

RELATED: Disparaging comments against staff led to suspension of Greater Victoria school trustees

No information about the allegations, process, findings, or decision to suspend has been provided to teachers, the statement read.

“We are unaware of any existing legislation that gives the Board of Trustees the authority to suspend elected members from participation,” said Waldron in the statement. “We are concerned that preventing two elected officials from exercising their votes may lead to future uncertainty for our district if the validity of decisions is questioned.”

Two upcoming controversial votes include the proposed sale of the Lansdowne school property and the budget.

Black Press Media has reached out to the Greater Victoria School Board for comment.

Former trustee Edith Loring-Kuhanga, who served 10 years on two boards in the region, took to social media to share a petition to reinstate the two trustees.

“I believe that they were democratically elected by the six Greater Victoria municipalities and therefore are accountable to those constituents,” she wrote, noting the next election should decide who remains on the board.

The next municipal election, when trustees are voted to the board, is Oct. 15.

Carey Newman, who resigned in May 2021 from the SD61 Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee citing “a pattern of systemic racism” and “deeply entrenched paternalistic attitudes,” also signed and shared the petition.

– with files from Jane Skrypnek

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


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