Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the Vancouver School Board this morning, hours before trustees were expected to vote on the 2016/17 school budget, which was supposed to have been passed by the end of June.
Bernier said trustees were fired because they failed to comply with the School Act and adopt a balanced budget on time.
"This step has been taken despite the possibility that the board may now be willing to pass a balanced budget. It is impossible to have any confidence that a potential last-minute change of position on the district budget signals a fundamental change in the attitude which has so far led the board to refuse to follow the law,” Bernier said at a press conference. "What we have witnessed from the Vancouver School Board is a misplaced focus on political tactics rather than responsible stewardship.”
Special advisor Peter Milburn has been looking into how trustees have been governing the district. Bernier received a draft version of that report Saturday, which he said prompted him to dismiss the board. The report was delayed after the VSB’s entire senior management team went on sick leave amid allegations of bullying. WorkPlace B.C. is looking into those allegations.
Bernier said he has no confidence in any decision the board has made up to this point.
Dianne Turner, a former superintendent with the Delta school district, has been appointed the trustee in charge of the Vancouver school district. She will be in place for a minimum of a year, according to Bernier.
The special advisor’s report is expected to be released to the public. Bernier said he wanted to release the report today, but it’s the subject of a privacy complaint, which was filed by Vision Vancouver trustee Patti Bacchus. He said the report will be released once the Privacy Commissioner has completed that investigation.
Story developing. More details to come.