Dianne Turner quietly exits role with the Vancouver School Board

Turner made $280,000 as official trustee and board advisor from October 2016 to April 2018

Dianne Turner’s tenure with the Vancouver School District began in late 2016 with tumult, controversy and cries of partisanship. 

It ended last week without a press conference, outrage or much of anything.

The Courier has learned Turner’s tenure with the district ended April 2. She served in an advisory role to help a pair of recent transition phases: for the trustees elected in October 2017 and after Suzanne Hoffman’s hiring as superintendent in January.

She was appointed as the district’s official trustee in October 2016 after the previous board was fired for failing to pass a balanced budget.

“We asked Dianne Turner to remain as a special advisor after the VSB election to ensure a smooth transition and to support the new Vancouver Board of Education,” Education Minster Rob Fleming told the Courier in an email. “I’m pleased with the work she has done assisting the new board, and that VSB is now on a positive trajectory. I thank Dianne very much for her work as Special Advisor and wish her all the best.”

Turner was the district’s official trustee — the lone political voice at the VSB — for the year-long period spanning October 2016 to October 2017. Prior to her time in Vancouver, Turner worked briefly with the ministry of education. A ministry rep confirmed that she is not going to back to work in Victoria.

Turner was paid approximately $280,000 for her work with the district.

Turner declined an interview request with the Courier, although her Linkedin profile suggests she’s now working as an education consultant.

Current board chair Janet Fraser is one of the few trustees who saw Turner’s time with the district travel full circle. She was informed by Fleming earlier this month that Turner would no longer be working with the district but offered few details, other than to say the decision was Fleming’s alone. Hoffman told the Courier in January that any decisions related to Turner were Fleming’s call as well.

One of Turner’s primary mandates was to reverse was what referred to as a “toxic” workplace culture that manifested between previous board members and senior staff throughout 2016. A handful of internal audits and reports suggested bullying had become commonplace among previous trustees, prompting several senior staffers to leave the district on sick leave or find new jobs altogether.

Fleming was asked specifically to assess the job Turner had done to change those relationships.

“Bullying of any kind is not acceptable and I was disturbed by what I read about the previous atmosphere at VSB,” he said. “The elected board offers an opportunity for renewal that will benefit students, parents, teachers and staff.”

When asked to assess how Turner handled the scrutiny associated with her position, Fraser responded with this:

“I presume she was fairly certain she knew what it would be like being the official trustee,” Fraser said. “I appreciate she took on the role for our district and when asked by the minister to do the two different roles, she was willing to step in.”

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@JohnKurucz

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