MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)

New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

B.C.’s new minister of education, Jennifer Whiteside, is standing behind her predecessor and calling for a Chilliwack school trustee to resign.

“I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague Minister (Rob) Fleming’s comments on the matter. It is time for Mr. (Barry) Neufeld to step down, full stop,” Whiteside told The Progress. “Time and time again, his reprehensible comments make it clear that he should not hold the role of school trustee and should not be in a school setting.”

Whiteside was sworn in as minister on Nov. 28, and Fleming was moved to the Ministry of Transportation. He had spoken recently to CBC about Neufeld prior to the cabinet shuffle and said there is a “toxic environment created around the (Chilliwack) board table renders that board really dysfunctional.”

There have been at least two petitions created to remove Neufeld.

One that was created in response to his using a derogatory term on his Facebook page has gathered more than 12,000 signatures in two weeks.

“After slandering our local paper and reporters, and continuing to be incredibly insensitive to any minority group in our community, I call for Barry Neufeld’s resignation, and preferably removal as school trustee for SD33 for his continued use of offensive language and complete disregard for decency in our community,” wrote the petition’s creator, Lisa Sweet, a parent in Chilliwack.

But when it comes down it, the minister of education does not have the legal ability to remove a single trustee. The only action currently available to the minister would be to remove the entire school board. The next general election for municipalities and school boards is set for the fall of 2022, and when boards have been removed in the past a single appointee has been put in place in the interim.

Many have written to the Ministry of Education to ask for new legislation that could remove a single sitting trustee under extraordinary circumstances.

As the new minister, Whiteside has been receiving those letters.

“With Mr. Neufeld still sitting on the board and espousing his hateful views, students and staff are not able to learn in a safe and inclusive education system and that is unacceptable,” she added. “If he does not do the right thing and step down immediately, I am looking at all possible options to make sure students and staff in Chilliwack feel welcome in their learning environments.”

Neufeld is currently under censure by the Chilliwack school board for comments he made about Canada’s medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam. He is also not allowed to attend Chilliwack schools, due to comments made about the LGBTQ community. And most recently, the school board voted to exclude him from the rest of their in-camera meetings for the school year, because he breached confidentiality and refused to recuse himself in a discussion for which he had pecuniary interests.

Despite being removed from most of his duties as a trustee, he will receive his regular remuneration for the entirety of his term. He can still attend public meetings and vote on matters in front of the board.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school board censures controversial trustee Barry Neufeld


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Chilliwack School District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s mass vaccination program will be delivered to Princeton residents from a clinic set up at the Riverside Community Centre. (Darryl Dyck/CP photo)
COVID vaccinations bookings began for local residents last week

Riverside serves as Princeton’s appointment centre

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will speed up the process for hospitality businesses looking to set up patios during the latest COVID-19 restrictions. Under the most recent restrictions, indoor dining is prohibited, but patio dining is allowed. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen speeds up patio permit approval

Initiative to help hospitality businesses affected by latest COVID-19 restrictions

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Your old lawnmower is an environmental disaster. (courtesy photo)
The perfect lawn is pretty hard on the planet

According the government of Canada, an older mower running for an hour can produce as much air pollution as a new car driving 550 kilometres.

File photo
Princeton fees and services set to increase by three per cent

Fees and charges provide the municipality with $1.515 million annually

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Exposure at Vernon’s BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

Most Read