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OPINION: Who is running School District 57?

Who is really running the show at School District 57, columnist Trudy Klassen questions
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The abrupt resignations of not one, but two members of SD57 school board trustees came as a bit of a shock to most people.

The only thing to guide opinions were their resignation letters shared on social media and a few bland news reports. 

The media will likely not dig beyond their explanations because trustees are considered upstanding members of our communities, and we bump into them at the grocery store, so we don’t want to ask too many difficult questions or challenge the narrative they have set out. Anyone who knows more will wave the privacy flag and that will be the end of it.

And so it goes. Nothing changes, and kids of all cultures are given a substandard education simply because the adults are too polite.

Let’s not let this fade into the forest, for the forest has enough to deal with, what with beetles, fires, loggers and glysophate spraying. We have a trustee by-election coming up, and these things need to be discussed or nothing will change.

Let’s look at the one thing we have been told.

Both resignations included reference to the systemic racism discovered in local schools and the fact that the meetings are not safe or inclusive.

Trent Derrick was the board chair, which means he was person running the meetings. Shuirose Valimohommad was vice-chair. 

Both of the top positions, whose very job it was to make sure voices were heard, resigned because they weren’t being heard due to their race?

This is either an odd thing to say, or it is true. Odd, as four of eight trustees identify as Indigenous or BIPOC. 

Derrick was in charge of how the meetings run. If he is conducting the meetings in a discriminatory fashion, he should have resigned his position as chair to allow someone who was more impartial and inclusive to run the meetings.

But maybe it’s not the odd explanation. The trustees that are left say there were surprised by the resignations. 

If we believe them, then it seems there were conversations happening away from the public about the disfunction at the meetings.

It would point to something that was so accepted that the more experienced trustees (Sharel Warrington, Tim Bennet and Betty Bekkering) had got used to it. If true, it is very disturbing and speaks to a very dysfunctional senior administration/trustee relationship.

From my two years of attending school board or committee meetings, it seemed to me that board members always spent an inordinate amount of time thanking and deferring to senior staff. 

Even with that, it did not seem like a congenial relationship. I never got the sense that senior staff understood that they were in the employ of the board. Even the superintendent seemed inferior to the senior administration.

Another factor may be in play. With the province having already put in place special advisors to supervise the district, is it really a stretch to go one step further, with an even weaker board, to simply remove school boards all together? 

The NDP have done this in the past, having eliminated hospital boards, so it would be in character. 

I hope not, but it is something to consider as an end game.