October 10/17 Operations Standing Committee: No quorum // October 23/17 Board Meeting: Dress codes again; SOGI

P 1 : Board Meeting
P 2: PACs, DPACs, BCCPAC

P 2 Preview:

School Act Part 6 — Boards of Education Division 1 — Corporate Status and Meetings: Meetings and chair : 67 (5.1) Without limiting subsection (5), a board may establish procedures respecting the provision of advice by a district parents’ advisory council to the board.

Looking at the Victoria DPAC Constitution (does anyone?):

  • Executive meetings held at discretion of Executive, minimally 5 annually. Quorum is majority of Executive members [possible 12 elected officers of VCPAC;  currently less than half that: 5 Executive members listed , so quorum 3, majority vote 2] .
  • Executive members of VCPAC: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, 5 Directors, up to 3 additional Directors, if approved at an AGM. The Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer only may not hold the same position for more than 4 consecutive terms. The Executive will process its decisions by making recommendations by notice of motion to the General Meeting for approval with the exception of time sensitive issues.

With Executive quorum being 3, a majority of that quorum = 2 votes. It’s possible 2 votes could be seen to represent the voice of all parents of the 20,000 students in SD61, on “time sensitive issues”.

 

Territory Acknowledgement900

Operations Policy&Planning Standing Committee 
Chair
Watters
Members:  McNally, Leonard, Paynter; Board Chair Loring-Kuhanga ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)
Present:  Leonard, Watters

No quorum at the October 10 Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee ( I was ill / absent)  so no votes could take place, but a comprehensive Technology Strategic Plan for SD61 was presented, Pp 9-34 on the agenda.

Board Meeting October 23 /17  (video here)

Agenda here.
Chair: Loring-Kuhanga
Present:
 Ferris (elected 1999), Leonard (elected 1996), Loring-Kuhanga (elected 2011), McNally (elected 2011), Nohr (elected 2011), Orcherton (elected 1999), Paynter (elected 2014), Watters (elected 2014),  Whiteaker (elected 2014)

Regrets: Paynter

Agenda adopted; September 25 Board minutes approved. (Official minutes here; Lined paper here.) No Business Arising; no School Student Achievement presentation. Student Representative for October: Ben Rutkowski, Vic High.

Facilities Summer Work presentation by David Loveridge, Director of Facilities.

The construction of the new portables has involved a consultative process with the designers and District operations and educational staff.  The designers have presented the District with their vision and we have provided input to ensure our classrooms are the most conducive learning environments.  While we anticipated timely completion, various issues associated with the piloting of our new model have caused delays.The biggest delay to date has been the new heating and ventilation and lighting systems we are installing in the portable, which will heat and help cool the portable and provide adequate air exchanges. Labour availability has also caused the District delays.  For example, getting roofers who are very busy across the province as were/are other suppliers of materials (windows, etc.). The District was required to contract out the roofing which caused delays. Delays also caused by the lack of skilled labourers in a number of trades specific to these builds including electricians and carpenters. We have recently hired additional staff that have been assigned to the projects. In addition, staff have been working overtime on completion.

Image result for portables willowes sd61

Photo Credit Vic News /Keri Coles / Oak Bay News

The work is being done in-house and after long  years of contracting out in SD61 (some of which is still unavoidable) it is heartening  and exciting to see CUPE 382 doing the work. A Facilities  appreciation lunch was held in the SJ Willis gym on October 20. About 186 382 members attended. It was great to have the time to talk to a few people about what they do  in their work days. (The 50-50 draw was for Sandy Merriman House, and Michelle, who won, gave her $400 back to Sandy Merriman! 382 has been donating to Sandy Merriman for many years.) Willows and Quadra modular classrooms are close to completion, with Northridge and Central to come.

Photo Credit Deb Whitten, Associate Superintendent

Trustee reports from Waters and McNally attached to agenda. Trustee questions E.1 b on the amount of money spent on catering and the need for a review of providers and more and standardization of reporting of expenses, currently difficult to track.

Jadyn Marshall, an articulate 19 year old former SD61 student, spoke on dress codes and how being “coded” in schools negatively affected her life. She related being told that she looked “disgusting” by one school staff member. You can see and listen to Jadyn about 20 minutes into the first video here.

Because the original dress code motion crafted by Trustee Jordan Watters (below) was referred back to the Committee which had sent it to the Board, by Trustee Deborah Nohr (who has often emphasized the need for girls to dress “modestly”)  and that motion to refer  was  supported by three Trustees (Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr for referral; McNally, Watters, Whiteaker against referral; Paynter absent) , Watters crafted  an interim motion.

Original: The Board of SD61 (Greater Victoria) accepts the following recommendation: The School Code of Conduct will not include any other statements regarding expectations of dress, except for the following: Our school is committed to creating a learning community that values diversity and is free of all forms of discrimination. In line with the BC Human Rights Code which prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and age, promotes a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights. Actions through verbal or nonverbal communication (including clothing) must demonstrate support for the BC Human Rights Code.

Watters’  interim motion below on this agenda was defeated. For: McNally, Watters, Whitaker  Against: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Nohr. Regrets: Paynter

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Superintendent to instruct Principals to suspend the enforcement of school dress codes pending the One Learning Community Ad Hoc Committee consultation and recommendations on dress codes.

Debate included some interesting points. All on video, part 3.

  • Audrey Smith, Victoria District Parent Advisory Council Chair: Concern by parents at September meeting. It’s not the dress codes themselves that are the problem; it is the enforcement of them.  [One man said at the September Ed Policy meeting that without dress codes SD61 schools would not be safe for his daughters. The September Board meeting speakers on dress code – and the verbal harassment of one of the speakers – are on video. Some of the concern was  from parents who do not want dress codes. And it’s difficult to understand how an existing code is not the problem but enforcement of it is. ]
  • Watters: Suspending the dress codes is not doing away with them; simply, no one would be “coded” until the codes are reviewed / the motion comes back from the referral to  Committee.
  • Ferris: This as a management issue. Wait until the One Learning community Committee sends back a recommendation.
  • Orcherton: There’s a process in place. We need more consultation.Not going for an end result now.
  • McNally: Many parents and a few former students  have emailed Trustees  in support of the motion that was referred, using the BC Human Rights Code as a basis for criteria for dress. Vic High is a shining example of excellence in education taking place in a high school with no dress code.
  • Nohr: Support Orcherton. Have not done enough consultation. This motion would undermine professional autonomy for teachers. [ Dress codes and “coding” already very from school to school; now, are parents and student going to have to expect variations from classroom to classroom?Leggings ok in this Grade 4 class but not in that one?]
  • Whiteaker: Amendment: Board direct the Superintendent to instruct principals to report any enforcement of dress codes to the Superintendent’s  office until the issue is resolved.
  • McNally: In support – yes, we do want to know what is going on at each school in regard to students, especially girls who are most targeted, being “coded”.
  • Watters: What does the Superintendent think? How often does enforcement happen? / Superintendent: Practicality of this reporting…
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Against the amendment – it’s “telling tales”. And reported to who after the Superintendent? Needs to stay at Committee.
  • Amendment defeated: For: McNally, Waters, Whiteaker   Against: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Nohr // Back to main motion.
  • Leonard: Too confusing for schools. The Superintendent will take with principals about what we are wrestling with.
  • Watters (to close): Dress codes are causing harm. This is not a process issue. The status quo is leaving  the District open to  a Human Rights Code charge. It’s only a matter of time before a student in BC does this and it could be here.
  • Main motion defeated. For: McNally, Watters, Whitaker  Against: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Nohr. Absent: Paynter

Watters’ SOGI  motion below carried unanimously. The letter of support  will be published  via social media, and Leonard suggested buying space in  local print media. McNally suggested timing that for around November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Watters: That the Board  publish a letter, as per the BCSTA message of support to Boards of Education, for SOGI policies and initiatives in fostering safer and more inclusive communities for all British Columbians.

[Vancouver, B.C, – September 22, 2017] – The British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA) would like to express its full support for boards of education, the Ministry of Education and the Provincial Government in their work towards fostering safer and more inclusive communities for all British Columbians, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 2016, the Government amended the BC Human Rights Code to include explicit protection for gender identity and expression, and, following that, the Ministry of Education required all public boards of education to address gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under their codes of conduct. BCSTA fully supports both the intent behind the decision and the requirement itself.

As stewards of public schools and their students across our province, it is important that we speak out against intolerance and prejudice in any school district or community in British Columbia. The mission of the BCSTA is to support and advocate for improving student achievement for all students in BC. Embedded in that is the responsibility of upholding of each and every student’s and staff member’s right to a safe and inclusive environment, where they can express themselves without fear of discrimination or harassment. School trustees are proud to work with our education partners in advocating for equality and safe environments for students, teachers, administrators and community members across our province.

BCSTA would like to encourage all member boards of education to write their own messages of support for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) inclusive policies and initiatives.

2017-10-24-Media_Release_BCSTA_statement_on_Barry_Neufeld
Neufeld’s statements are being examined an commented on in media. CBC news:

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld is facing calls to resign after posting negative online comments regarding the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program (SOGI) in B.C. schools. Neufeld set off a firestorm of controversy after posting Monday on Facebook that he would risk being labelled a “bigoted homophobe” for his opinion that allowing children to change gender was “nothing short of child abuse,”

When asked during an interview with The Early Edition host Rick Cluff whether Neufeld should resign, Colin McKenna, the president of PFLAG (Parents and Family and Friends of LGBTQ) said: “Yes, immediately.” Former Vancouver school board chair Patti Bacchus also called for Neufeld’s resignation on Twitter Monday, shortly after Neufeld’s posted his comments.

When CBC reached Neufeld for comment, he refused an interview without first being provided a list of questions. He did say he had deactivated his Facebook account after being harassed.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said that while he disagreed with Neufeld’s views, there were no plans to remove him from his position. “He’s unfortunately not a role model in the school system on this issue … maybe one day he’ll come around and realize that in order to remove fear and intimidation and a bullying culture in our school system, SOGI 123 is essential.”

In a statement, the president of The British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA) said the BCSTA does not support Neufeld’s position.”Our association strongly believes that schools need to be safe and welcoming places for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background,” wrote Gordon Swan. “It is important that we all stand up and defend our students and our staff against any incidents of prejudice, bullying or discrimination.”

In the Facebook post, Neufeld denounced members of B.C.’s education system as “radical cultural nihilists” for their policies on gender rights and education — and said he no longer wants any part of that system.

 

So, resign.

Adjourned  9:05.

 

About Diane McNally

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