September 25/17: Board Meeting: Auditor’s Report, Dress Code In Limbo, Trustee $, 9 Budget Motions

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.

P1 Board Meeting


Territory Acknowledgement900

It’s time for a new format for this blog. With the change, here’s some history.

When I was first elected in 2011, I came to the School District 61 Board fro a background of  consistent application of Robert’s Rules in small meetings and in large meetings of 400 or more  people.  Everyone understood the procedure of the debate, order was kept, and everyone knew how motions were disposed of. If you didn’t know  Robert’s you’d be  left behind as there was no patience for remaining ignorant of required process.

As a representative of the teacher’s union local I attended SD61 Board meetings for for several years, thinking that this Board must be so much more sophisticated with Robert’s Rules than  I, since I had little grasp of what was going on. The meetings  moved very  fast. Other attendees  could not understand how the meetings were conducted, either.

However, once elected and immersed in the process of the Board, it became clear that  Board and Committee meetings did not follow Robert’s,  required by SD61 Board Bylaw 9368 and hadn’t for some time, which is why no one really understood  what was happening.  “Out of Order”, used frequently and incorrectly by Chairs of the Board and Committees,  really meant that the Chair didn’t like the motion and wanted it to go away. Although enshrined Robert’s, challenging a ruling of the Chair was not allowed. (Bev Horsman, no longer on the board, was horrified by the idea of a challenge to the Chair saying, “That would undermine the Chair’s authority!” Imagine that. ) I brought a motion to the table to  revise the relevant Bylaw  [ at 8. A here] to include a provision for Challenge of the Chair’s ruling,  as it exists in Robert’s rules of Order. Much opposition but eventually carried.

Motions were  recorded in minutes as simply carried or defeated. Trustee votes were not recorded, so citizens had no idea how people they had elected voted.  I made a motion to  have names attached to votes and published in the minutes so electors would know how people they elected voted on issues. My motion to record votes  [February 2012] failed at Ed Policy in 2012 with intense pushback 5-4 [Orcherton: “Individual trustees can decide how transparent they want to be to the public.”] But at the following  Board meeting the motion  carried unanimously, with five trustees who had argued vehemently against the motion suddenly changing their minds  after media attention. Perhaps it became apparent that transparency for elected officials  isn’t an option.

I initiated [at 8.B here] a motion to have  students at the Board table. They are now, not as I envisioned, but the presence is even better than I’d hoped.

You can imagine given  the lack of rules of engagement and arbitrary actions by Chairs that were supported 5-4, the kind of experiences that in camera meetings were. Because I can’t tell you.

A lot more that needed to change, and meetings have changed for the better, but not without unrelenting  focus and effort on applying Robert’s Rules. RRO 11th Edition was bought and given to all Trustees. I’m not sure that even now, all Trustees have read it. It’s not fun but required reading for the job.  Just one example,  below. Never mind that Board Bylaw 9368 requires that meetings use Robert’s Rules.

Jan 7/13: Motion from the floor: McNally:That any motion to refer be made and conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, with a mover, seconder, debate, and votes recorded. / Defeated. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton   For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr. So, anything can be referred by a Chair without a motion to do that or a recorded vote, to some other meeting. Some “referred” motions never resurfaced. [As of 2014, Robert’s is in force.]

Some Trustees  may still believe Robert’s is “bureaucratic bullshit”, but nevertheless the  majority now accepts that the Board functions well according to Robert’s Rules. Now, if you know even the rudiments, you can follow debate and disposal of motions. Minutes make sense and are complete. There is no longer a need to record in detail what happened in the meetings. The essentials are captured in the minutes of the two standing committees and the Board meeting. posted on the SD61 website. Improving process and updating Policy and Regulations (which the majority bloc – Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton – of the Board for the 2011 3 year term said would take too much time, and besides, “Trustees don’t get involved in Policy”)   are well underway and continue, with two trustees  the committee.Because yes they do get involved with Policy.

Robert's Rules

Regular Board Meeting
September 25/17
Chair: Loring-Kuhanga
Present: Ferris, Leonard, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Watters, Whiteaker
Not Present: Orcherton, Paynter

The agenda was approved with a couple of additions. Minutes of June 26, August 21 approved. No business arising, no student achievement presentation. KPMG, the District Auditors, presented their analysis of the District’s financial statements and found them to be in order.

In the Community Presentations section, five people spoke to the proposed SD 61 Dress Code motion. During the first presentation by Tasha Diamant, there were abusive comments being made to her that the Board could not hear, but there was apparent body language from a member of the public. When Tasha had finished her presentation and was returning to her seat, the man who had been making remarks became more aggressive with his remarks, although people at the Board table still could hear only the odd word, not all of what was said.  I heard only “weird”, which was bad enough. Two more women presented. Tasha moved away from the commenting  man to another seat, stood up  and called out what had happened and the man denied it; the next presenter, Max, said what he had heard, supported what Tasha had said,  and called for action.  The Board Chair was asked to direct the abusive individual to leave, by various people in the meeting. Nothing like this had ever happened in this meeting room before. The chair asked and then directed the man to leave.  He argued,  two male senior administration rose, and followed the individual and his friend out of the room. The final presenter, Renay, made her presentation in support of the motion. They are all on SD61 video on the website. The incident is in Part 1, at 26 minutes 10 seconds.

The incident needs close attention in a debrief, development of clear protocol for such breaches in conduct / threatening behaviour, and possibly a reconfiguration of the room to ensure that all in the room can hear everyone.

This is the motion that carried at Ed Policy on September 11th, and which the Board intended to debate at this meeting: 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.

The meeting continued.  The Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils President spoke against the motion, and Trustee Deborah Nohr, who had previously spoken against the motion,  moved to refer it back to the One Learning Community Committee (which made the recommendation to adopt it). The motion to refer carried, which stopped any debate, and stopped anyone hearing  any reasons why a Trustee would be  be for or against it.  Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr for referral; McNally, Watters, Whiteaker against referral, meaning let’s do this now; it’s been through two Committees.

And mystifyingly, the next day in an interview with TC reporter Jeff Bell,

Audrey Smith, president of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils , said there hasn’t yet been an official parent representative involved in discussions about the dress code.

The mystifying part is, Smith was at the table and contributed when the code proposal was being discussed in meetings of the One Learning Community Committee and could have brought up the “official” problem then. But how much more “official”  does it have to get than the President of the Organization that (although it seldom if ever gets quirum at meetings) purports to represent parents of students in SD61?

Reportedly Smith has since  claimed she was misquoted by the TC reporter, but  Trustees weren’t told this. I called the TC and management is  investigating.

[VCPAC – most parent groups simply go by DPAC, “District Parent Advisory Council” – was unable to get quorum [a PAC rep from each of 15 schools] for even one VCPAC meeting in the 2016-17 school year, and most of the time in years past. This is an organization that presents itself though the President’s statements as  “the” voice of parents in SD61. How was business conducted, if any was? So get out to your school PAC meeting  and ask a lot of questions. Only one person gets to take the school PAC vote in issues to DPAC, though. Not one person, one vote.


The rest of the meeting dealt with establishing a French Advisory ad hoc committee to meet at least annually [carried],  that the Superintendent provide a report and recommendation on elementary counselling supports [carried], debate on trustee remuneration framed in the coming impact of 2019 Federal tax changes [carried], a motion to upgrade the upper  Esquimalt High School Field [carried] and nine budget related motions [all carried]. [For years, the SD61 structural deficit climbed every year, but the current administrative team directed by current Board decisions have reduced it from over $8 million a couple of years ago to $3,700,000. With direction from the current Board, paying down  the structural deficit is beginning to look very possible.]

Structural deficit SD61 Ambeault
SD61 Structural Deficit : former Sec-Treas Ambeault

The public question period had  three  questions, one asking about the legal basis for the district to collect funds from parents for playgrounds and one asking for policy on teachers teaching their own children (there isn’t one). One was handed in from the floor written as required, something like”explain dress codes“, left behind by the individual who was ejected. [ Ok. Here.]

Trustee Watters gave a Notice of Motion for the next Board meeting:

That the Board direct the Superintendent to instruct principals to  suspend enforcement of school dress codes pending completion of the One Learning Community Committee’s consultations and recommendations on dress codes.

Adjourned 10:25 pm.

bra straps
Please make an effort to maintain self-control.

June 12/17: Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee: Proposed New SD61 Enrolment Protocol / Draft Facilities Plan (First Ever?)

Recommended motion (recommended by the Committee): TTB accept the recommendations of the Student Registration and Transfer Ad Hoc Committee.
Proposed new enrolment protocol for a school: 1. re-enrolling student 2. catchment sibling 3. new catchment child 4. non catchment sibling 5. non catchment child 6. non school district child . / One parent speaker: Changing schools can lead to psychosis.

The Record Off The Record

The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on SD61 Board and Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved minutes are on the SD61 website, one month after the meeting.

SD61 Greater Victoria School District includes students in Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, parts of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

Meeting schedule hereMeeting agendas posted on SD61 website Friday before the meeting. Board meetings  audio and video recorded, though Standing Committees are not. (Under the Board of Education menu.)

(Board Chair Loring-Kuhanga member of both, ex officio)
Operations Policy&Planning Chair Watters, McNally, Leonard, Paynter
Ed Policy&Development: Chair Whiteaker, Ferris, Nohr, Orcherton
Policy SubCommittee:  Mar/17–May/17 Ferris&Orcherton

Standing committees are the best opportunity for stakeholders, public, and partner groups to make their views known to Trustees.  Standing  Committee structure operates on less formal   Rules of Order than does the Board, ie. no need for a seconder for a motion, and a Trustee  can speak as many times as the Chair allows; members of the public and presenters can ask questions of each other and engage in dialogue.The question can’t be called in a standing committee, meaning debate can extend for some time. Most substantive debate on motions takes place at the standing committees.  


Spectrum Ferris& Leonard
Mount Doug Paynter
Oak Bay Loring-Kuhanga
Reynolds Nohr&Orcherton
Vic High McNally
Lambrick Whiteaker
Esquimalt Watters


Aboriginal Nations Education Council McNally
District Facilities Planning Committee Ferris
Gender Sexuality Alliance Watters
Equity Ad Hoc Committee Paynter & Watters
French Immersion Advisory Ferris
Needs Budget Advisory Committee Orcherton, Leonard, Nohr
Public Engagement Ad Hoc Committee McNally & Orcherton
Student Registration & Transfer Committee Ferris & Nohr
Middle School Review Committee Whiteaker & Leonard


howard slide 1
June is Orca Month: City of Victoria, BC, Washington State, Oregon

Sept 26/16 Board Meeting: DPAC’s Role // 7/9 Trustees Approve Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy

Parent presenter: I would like to thank the Board Chair and Trustees for allowing me the opportunity to address this meeting. I have two issues I would like to discuss which concern the District PAC. The first is in regards to the status of the DPAC during Board Meetings and second is in concern of funding of Parent Education events.

Page 1

P1: Students with Intensive Behaviour Support Needs / Severe Mental Illness
P 2: Meeting Schedule /  Trustee  Appointments
P3: Board Meeting
P4: District 61 DPAC (aka VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs
P5: BCCPAC (British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils) info

It’s the end of September. Staff in schools now  know the students. You [and I] will not know how many children in a particular school are designated “Intensive Behaviour Interventions or Serious Mental Illness ” (or any designation, as no BC School Districts  provide class size and composition reports. The last report on the VSB site was 2013.). These students need much more support than the Ministry funds them for. So, think about where the funding for the support might come from.We all need to advocate for better funding for students with special needs.

Here is the protocol [based on Ministry of Education criteria and accepted in all BC public schools] taken from the from SD85 website, for Students with Intensive Behaviour Support Needs / Severe Mental Illness in the School District #85 Vancouver Island North Special Services Handbook Revised 2012: Designation of Students who have Intensive Behaviour Support or Serious Mental Illness.This is how it works everywhere  BC.

Students identified in this category are those most in need of intensive interventions. They are expected to be less than one percent (1%) of the student population province-wide. [Some schools  have many more children designated in this category than this statistic presents.] These students should have access to coordinated school/community interventions, which are based on inter-service / agency assessment processes that are required to manage, educate, and maintain the students in school and in their community.

Students Requiring Intensive Behaviour Interventions are eligible to be reported in this special education funding category if they exhibit:
antisocial, extremely disruptive behaviour in most environments (for example, classroom, school, family, and the community);
• and· behaviours that are consistent/persistent over time.

In addition to meeting one of the conditions above, to be eligible for special education funding, these behaviour disorders and or illnesses must be:
serious enough to be known to school and school district personnel and other community agencies and to warrant intensive interventions by other community agencies/service providers beyond the school [if there is no “outside agency involved, the school will not get funding for a support person. Some parents choose not to get “outside help” ie a psychiatrist or counselling] ; and
a serious risk to the student or others, and/or with behaviours or conditions that significantly interfere with the student’s academic progress and that of other students; and
beyond the normal capacity of the school to educate, provided “normal capacity” is seen to include the typical special education support / interventions such as school-based counselling, moderate behaviour supports, the use of alternate settings, and other means in the school environment. [School personnel / teachers have to go far beyond the “extra mile” to show that the school cannot educate the student without additional support.] Reduction in class size or placement in an alternate program or learning environment is not by itself a sufficient service to meet the criteria. “Beyond the normal capacity of the school to educate, provided “normal capacity” is seen to include the typical special education support / interventions such as school-based counselling, moderate behaviour supports, the use of alternate settings, and other means in the school environment.”

It is possible the school will get no funding for support, if parents  refuse services of community  psychologist or psychiatrist.

Then  what?