The Record Off The Record is my own record of public meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria (5 municipalities). “Official” approved minutes are posted on the SD61 website generally one month after the meeting. Trustees are referred to by last name only for brevity; in motions, “the Board of Education of SD No. 61 (Greater Victoria”) is referred to as “the Board [etc]”. No Board audio recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. [No record of debate or a vote on recording, or proposed uses of and storage of the record appears to exist. ] Education Policy and Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committees are combined for one meeting because of Spring Break (March 9-25). ]
Note: WordPress seems to have a mind of its own regarding formatting this post. I tried.
1. Approval of Agenda: Approved, with the addition of one speaker at 5.
2. Approval of Minutes:
1. Education Policy Development Committee, February 4, 2013: Approved
2. Operations, [sic] Policy and Planning Committee (a standing committee for operations planning and to set (theoretically) operations policy, not a meeting about operations, and about planning, and about policy) February 12, 2013: Approved
3. Business Arising From Minutes: Nohr asked Deputy Superintendent Bell the time and place of the next Public Engagement Ad Hoc Committee (aka “Subcommittee”, though there are no Bylaws or Policies that mention “subcommittee” ) meeting, and was told that would be revealed in B.
4. Education Policy Development Committee : Chair Alpha
A. Pink Shirt Day: Lansdowne, Lambrick and Gordon Head Middle Schools
Student representatives spoke about how Pink Shirt Day started and talked about the concept and reality of being an “ally”. These articulate students addressed the bully’s need for community, as well, and showed commendable understanding of the bullying dynamic, a testament to the work being done in their schools.
- Radio Frequency Radiation: Default settings for wifi-capable devices are “wifi on” and transmitting at all times.
- From Gustavs’ website: “One aspect of our environment is often overlooked because it is invisible, but human-made electromagnetic fields can be found everywhere where electricity or wireless technologies are being used. Government guidelines protect from acute electric shock and burns, but not from long-term effects caused by everyday, low-level exposures—many of which are totally unnecessary and waste a great deal of precious energy.We specialize in electromagnetic field testing: we measure the current situation, analyze possible sources and causes, and outline a personalized remediation strategy on how you can reduce your exposure—now and in the future.”
2. Karen Weiss: WiFi:
- [Karen was not able to attend the meeting.] Karen was interviewed by the Saanich Voice Online, February 7, 2011: “Concerned parent, Karen Weiss, said, “Parents are under increasing pressure to go with this trend. All parents want the best for their kids, but what they don’t realize is that a wireless connection is not going to make them smarter or give any technological advantages over a hard wired connection. In fact, there are many peer reviewed studies emerging that suggest that long term exposure of low level Wi-Fi radiation can cause serious biological effects.”
- Saanich Voice continues: “According to the November 2, 2010 minutes of the Arbutus School Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, it was agreed to spend $10,000.00 on converting Arbutus School to wireless in order to meet the school district’s one-time offer of matching funds for a wireless system. The minutes continue, “that the teachers would have laptop and, potentially, iPad access in classrooms” and that the school district believed the wireless technology was “safe”. The minutes also indicate that a decision had to be made by the PAC before the end of November or risk forfeiting the matching funds. “
3.Peter Milne (parent): Engagement :
- Mr. Milne expressed concerns with the SD61 WiFi committee and related issues, among them: Former self-appointed chair of WiFi Committee George Ambeault (former SD61 Secretary-Treasurer, resigned that position to become Executive Director of ERAC. ERAC appears committed to wifi in all schools; hosted a paper called “Go Wireless or Go Home”. [The current Director of IT in SD61 is an appointed member of the ERAC Learning Resource Advisory Committee. It’s not clear who makes the appointments; possibly the Executive Director. The ERAC website does not offer a clear explanation of the Learning Resource Advisory Committee, but it appears to be an evaluation group, with evaluations paid for by product vendors : “ERAC will notify vendors of the interest in their product. The vendor will have the opportunity to underwrite the evaluation.”].
- Expect student accommodation actions connected to Human Rights.[Australia’s equivalent to WorkSafe recently found in favour for a medical doctor diagnosed with electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome.]
4. Steve Branyik: (parent, Victor School): Wifi at Victor School: in favour of Wifi.
5. Jim McDermott: (parent, Victor School): WiFi at Victor School:
- In favour of wifi.
- [Mr. McDernott, a parent of a middle-school aged child at Victor School spoke at the February 18 Board meeting on this topic, and provided four letters of support. Three of the school’s 19 families were represented at tonight’s meeting; Mr. McDermott reported “zero opposition” to this initiative from parents of students at Victor School.
6. Satnam Kahalma: (Victor School parent): WiFi at Victor School: In favour of wifi.
7. Janis Hoffman: (grandparent): WiFi
- WiFi cautions; not in favour of wifi.
- Mrs. Hoffman presented the Board with a document containing updated and refreshed links for the SD61 WiFi information page. Mrs. Hoffman reviewed all the links and found that many were outdated or broken. Mrs. Hoffman offered to provide live links for the School District page, and requested that the update be posted there and on the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils website.
Context for Victor School WiFi
- The SD61 special education page posts this information: “The District provides alternate settings [some settings are within their own classrooms in schools; VictorSchool is situated in a stand alone building as a stand alone school on its own grounds, student enrolment 19 at this time] for students with the following Low Incidence disabilities at the Middle and Secondary level: Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disabilities; Dependent Handicapped with intellectual disabilities; and Autism with significant intellectual disabilities. Instruction in these settings includes individual programming focusing on functional academics, life skills, communication, vocational training and integrated therapies (i.e. physiotherapy, occupational therapy, communication therapy). Efforts are made to ensure students have opportunities for integration in school and community settings, based on student strength and context capacity. Consultation with parents/guardians is necessary prior to recommending placement. Placements in District Programs are coordinated by the Special EducationDepartment. “
- Victor School students have Individual Education Programs which are for the most part delivered on the site in classrooms in the building.
- Classrooms are staffed by a teacher and a number of education assistants. The rest of the building is office space for SD61 personnel.
B. Finance and Legal Affairs [It’s not clear why the Public Engagement Committee falls under Legal and Financial, but here it is ...]
1. Subcommittee on Public Engagement (As there is no reference to a “subcommittee” in SD61 bylaws or policies, this is an Ad Hoc Committee of the Board.)
- At the Board meeting of December 12, 2912, the following motion carried: That the Board [etc] form an Ad Hoc Committee to review Bylaw 9360 to make recommendations for enhancements for public engagement including a structure for a possible Question and Answer period. The Ad Hoc Committee will include one representative from ASA, CUPE 382, CUPE 947, Exempt, GVTA, VPVA, two members of the public, and the Superintendent of Schools. The committee will report to the Operations, [sic] Policy and Planning Committee and will be at no coast to the Board. Carried. For: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton Against: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr
- McNally and Loring-Kuhanga asked Deputy Superintendent Bell for a list of topics that this committee is addressing on order to be transparent about the number of motions referred to it so far. Trustees were told that a “more thorough” report will be provided by the Deputy Superintendent after the next meeting. A member of the public asked if minutes would be posted. [Posting public minutes of a Committee on how to engage the public: envision a referral to the Committee on Public Engagement to study that.]
- McNally and Nohr attended the first meeting of the Committee (February 18, 2013) and will continue to take notes and attend as observers, as there was majority Board resistance to Trustees being on this committee (the mandate of which is to examine public engagement with Trustees, ie, “the Board”).
- The Deputy Superintendent reported that the first meeting examined the question “What is public engagement?” with a focus on Bylaw 9360 , General Meeting of the Board.
- Next meeting: 4 pm Thursday March 28, Tolmie Building Annex
C. Public Disclosure of In Camera items: None (no in camera meeting)
D. New Business / Notice of Motions
Context for the next motion: At the November 19, 2012 Regular Board meeting the following motion carried:
- (C.2) :That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Superintendent to ensure that no new routers be placed in any school until such time as the Board has changed its present direction. Carried. For Ferris, Nohr, Leonard, Alpha, Horsman, Orcherton Against: McNally [current K-5 hotspots / unauthorized wifi access in K-5 schools currently in place is not addressed in this motion], Loring-Kughanga (McEvoy: absent; regrets)
1. Orcherton: That the Board [etc] allow WiFi to be installed (or used) at Victor Street School, since it is a unique school within the district, as per the request of the PAC, parents and professionals that work with the children at the school.
- Four letters were provided to the Board in support, from Jim McDermott, Victor School Parent Advisory Council Vice President; Debra Mackie, Victor School Principal; Sheila McIntosh, Teacher-Consultant with Provincial Outreach Program for Students With Deafblindness; Suzanne Lewis, MD, Department of Medical Genetics / Director ASPIRE Consortium, Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC.
During my twenty-two years of teaching SD61, I taught Special Education and student support. I taught for ten years at Victor School. I was President of the Special Education Local Specialists Association for two years. Earlier, I worked in special education as a CUPE student assistant for ten years in SD62 (Sooke). Those years included hundreds of hours of inservice and professional development on autism spectrum disorders, communication, deafblindness, rare syndromes, and more.
Many communication apps don’t need active wifi to function, although clearly some of the apps, like email and Youtube, do.
Every middle school and high school in SD61 is already wifi’d, and wifi dependent apps can be used in those schools.
This was a difficult vote. For me, the Precautionary Principle remains paramount.
From Women’s College Hospital, Toronto: “The world is becoming dominated by wireless technology which is constantly emanated as micro, radio and extremely low frequency waves through the air. Researchers are studying the effects of constant exposure to these waves and how it impacts the human body.Cell phones, cell phone towers, wireless internet routers, cordless phones and power lines of all sorts have all been recognized as possible contributors to an environmental health condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EMS) caused by significant exposure from radio waves. “ The Women’s College Hospital Board is composed of reputable individuals.
Joel Moscowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, says “Based upon my review of the research of the health effects associated with exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation (EMR), especially microwave radiation, I feel compelled to register my concern that adoption of Wi-Fi in LAUSD classrooms is likely to put at risk the health of many students and employees in the District.”
- This motion will come forward as “recommended”, to the March 25 Board meeting.
2. McNally: That the Board [etc] provide a list of all individuals who made application to be on the community presentations / speakers list for any standing committee or Board meeting to be appended to every agenda, a) names listed in the order in which the application was received, along with the topic proposed b) list to include individuals who have not been placed on the agenda to speak c ) cutoff time to be at noon, the day of the meeting.
Rationale:This is not a proposed change to Bylaw 9360. It proposes creation of a simple list document by the individual who creates and maintains the speaker list for presentations for any agenda of standing committees or Board meetings. This process would attach virtually no cost to the board. Providing a list of persons who have applied to speak at any standing committee or Board meeting increases transparency and accountability for the Board in the public’s eyes. Members of the public have reported dismay when left off the list of speakers due to either time (“Six people got in ahead of you; you weren’t fast enough with your request to speak”) or topic constraints (“Three people are already speaking on that topic”). The names of these applicants to bring a concern before trustees disappear, and are never known to trustees or the public, as no mention is made of them. Trustees and the public need to know what the major topics of concern in the community are. A list of individuals who requested to speak on a given topic but who were not allowed to speak due to the constraints of Bylaw 9360 (30 minutes in all for speakers, and three speakers per topic) would provide valuable information about community concerns for Trustees and for the public record.
Highlights of debate:
- Leonard: (As Chair) : suggests withdrawal, or referral to the Public Engagement Committee; declined by mover.
- Alpha: in favour; assists and supports the public in making concerns known
- Ferris: This is already being dealt with [not sure how]; it would create hardship for secretaries; there is no problem if you get left off one agenda, just come to the next meeting.
- Orcherton: No problem with this motion.
- Alpha: motion to amend by striking “c” [discussion led to a perception that a cutoff time for the speakers list at noon the day of the meeting was too soon – this is good to know if you want to get on the list] : Amendment carried.
- Leonard: The Committee on Public Engagement will deal with this and similar questions so this won’t get support here
- Orcherton: Now won’t support it as the Committee will address it.
Motion as amended: That the Board [etc] provide a list of all individuals who made application to be on the community presentations / speakers list for any standing committee or Board meeting to be appended to every agenda, a) names listed in the order in which the application was received, along with the topic proposed b) list to include individuals who have not been placed on the agenda to speak [apparently no time limit as to when one can apply to be on the speakers list].
Defeated. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Orcherton For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr
E. General Announcements: None
F. Adjournment: 9:35
Next meeting: Monday March 25, 2013: Regular Board Meeting
The Board recognizes that a student with special needs should be placed in a setting other than a regular school classroom with age and grade peers only after the School and District have made all reasonable efforts to integrate the student, and it is clear that a combination of education in regular classes and supplementary support cannot meet his/her educational or social need; or there is clear evidence that partial or full placement in another setting is the most appropriate option after considering the educational needs of the student and of others.When an alternative to a regular school class with age and grade peers is necessary, then placement in an alternate setting is to be done as part of a plan that is regularly reviewed and updated in consultation with parents and the school-based team with a view to returning the student to a regular school classroom as soon as it is feasible. Greater Victoria School District Approved: September 24, 2001