Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council chair resigns

The chairperson of Vancouver’s District Parent Advisory Council resigned with a publicly posted letter April 20.

Former DPAC chair Melanie Antweiler surprised other executive members by posting her letter of resignation to the volunteer body’s website, Facebook page and mailing list. Her letter stated she had lost confidence in the executive and singled out the actions of a particular member.

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Antweiler says she shared her resignation publicly so people would know she was no longer chair. As to why she included accusations, she said: “I would have been asked, otherwise, why I was leaving.”

DPAC removed Antweiler’s posts as soon as possible and released a statement about her resignation April 23.

“We don’t think those statements are factual,” said acting co-chair Mabel Sun, who believes many of Antweiler’s frustrations were due to miscommunication.

DPAC thanked Antweiler for her contributions and acknowledged her as a strong advocate for public education.

“It is unfortunate that Melanie chose to resign under a cloud of unresolved issues, and that her letter of resignation was publicly posted and distributed widely by email,” the statement reads. “We as members of Vancouver DPAC executive will continue working with and through [Vancouver School Board] officials to resolve the issues at hand.”

Antweiler said the VSB paid for two mediators. The first mediation didn’t go far. She resigned after she felt the second mediation failed to take concerns about her personal safety seriously.

“It’s not a personality conflict,” she said.

Antweiler said she wanted the mediator to help DPAC address problems that reoccur regardless of who’s on the executive, including respectful communication, time contributed and workloads.

Sun and vice-chairs Diana Day and Farah Shroff are acting as co-chairs. DPAC holds its annual general meeting in May, with final elections to its executive in the summer.

Sun says DPAC will likely strike a subcommittee to deal with communications and review social media protocol in its constitution and bylaws. DPAC’s website contractor also resigned, as did parent Claudia Ferris from her role as communications coordinator.

Ferris said in a voice mail to the Courier she didn’t think the problems that have arisen are unusual to a volunteer-run executive.

The VSB said in an emailed statement the board is working alongside DPAC to support its transition, but noted DPAC is an independent and autonomous body.

Sun said DPAC needs to determine how it will vote on resolutions at the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils’ annual general meeting May 2 and 3, and to focus on provincial underfunding and the VSB budget.

“They already cut to the bone,” she said. “There’s nothing they can cut in the future, nothing. If they cut more, then the whole system is going to collapse.”

2015-2016 Budget
The Vancouver School Board is to approve its provisional budget for the next school year, April 30. Staff’s preliminary budget projected the VSB needed to meet a funding shortfall of $8.52 million. The board proposes changing its elementary band and strings programs, continuing to sell and lease back equipment and technology, decreasing its budget line for the purchase of furniture and equipment below average spending per year, reducing school maintenance, closing 28 unused classrooms for savings in cleaning costs and reducing and consolidating adult education offerings. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at 1580 West Broadway.

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