A second school board trustee has resigned.
Betty Bekkering, who has served as a trustee for almost 10 years, resigned a day after rookie trustee Gillian Burnett stepped away from the board and after superintendent Cindy Heitman “left the district.” No reason has been given for the departures, however the North Central Labour Council is pointing the finger at an incident late last year.
Josh Silva, who unsuccessfully ran for the board, gave an address to the board that has been described as anti-LGBTQ, and was thanked by board chair Rachel Weber for his courage to speak. She later said she was not endorsing what she said. At the last board meeting, the president of the Prince George Teachers’ Associatioon was denied the opportunity to speak.
“Every member of the Board is committed to education and importantly, brings diverse perspectives.
The Board has been, and continues to be, steadfast in creating an environment where different ideas and opinions are welcome and productive debate encouraged before fact-based decisions are made – including those of governance and policy,” reads a statement issued by Weber Sunday. “The Board remains focused on building collaborative relationships with rights holders, partners, and stakeholders in working to ensure the District is meeting the needs of students, teachers, and staff.
”On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Ms. Burnett and Ms. Bekkering for all their hard work and wish them the best in their future endeavours.”
Matt Baker, president of the labour council has issued the following statement:
”The North Central Labour Council (NCLC) supports work environments where all workers feel secure, safe, and supported. The actions of the Prince George School Board Trustees over the last few months, and even more recently, the last week have removed these conditions for over 1000 of the associated members who are employed within the school district as well as children and families. NCLC reaffirms our support for all members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
“It is concerning that the publicly elected Board of Education appears to demonstrate an unwillingness to be held publicly accountable. At a meeting, Josh Silva, spoke transphobic and concerning messages about teachers and children. He was then thanked for his bravery by the board, denying the rights of LGBTQIAS+ staff and students.
“When one of our affiliate presidents requested to speak at the last public meeting on this topic, the request was denied. When one of our local schools was irresponsibly denigrated, the trustees of the board were silent. This is unacceptable.
“Through all these attacks on public education that have occurred under your watch, you have remained silent to your employees, that representatives and the media. As publicly elected officials, we urge you to reflect on the importance of accountability for good, stable governments to the public education system and the values of that system.”
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