SD73 Chair Harper on VSB firing: no room in public education for party politics

By James Peters / Chad Harris
October 17, 2016 - 3:35pm Updated: October 18, 2016 - 5:05pm

KAMLOOPS — The Board of Education chair for the Kamloops-Thompson School District says she takes no pleasure in hearing the democratically-elected Vancouver school board has been fired by Education Minister Mike Bernier.

But Denise Harper says it was clear party politics was preventing the board from functioning for the good of Vancouver students.

"There is absolutely no room in public education for party politics. We are elected for one job, and one job only - to govern the system, make good policy decisions, and make sure that all the decisions are child-focused," Harper told CFJC Today.

Bernier announced a single appointed trustee would take over from the board on an interim basis.

“It is impossible to have any confidence that a potential last-minute change of position on the district signals a fundamental change in the attitude which has so far led the board to refuse to follow the law,” Bernier said. 

The minister fired the North Okanagan Shuswap school board in June, though circumstances in that case were different.

Harper says District 73's elected board has a collegial relationship with its administrators and the firings don't worry her.

"The trustees that the citizens of the school district have elected are very collegial in the way we work together, we are very focused on what is best for students, and very focused on making right and proper decisions. We are not influenced by party policy, or by people who come in with different ideas."

Harper added, "I'm sorry to hear it. I take no pleasure in that action having to be taken. Boards are democratically elected, and now there is no democratically elected school board in the city of Vancouver."


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