Fired Vancouver school board members clash over future of official trustee Dianne Turner

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      Dianne Turner should stay as Vancouver education trustee, says a former school board member.

      Fraser Ballantyne said that this will provide time for healing to happen following findings of bullying and harassment of staff by some previous members of the board.

      Former board chair Mike Lombardi disagrees, saying things are fine, and that Turner should be sacked when a B.C. NDP minority government takes over.

      Ballantyne, who is with the Non-Partisan Association, was one of the nine school trustees fired last year by the province for the board’s failure to pass a balanced budget.

      A report prepared by lawyer Roslyn Goldner stated that actions by trustees belonging to Vision Vancouver created a “toxic work environment”.

      In another report, WorkSafeBC concluded that the behaviour of some trustees amounted to bullying and harassment.

      “I think time is needed for the healing for the people who had been burned,” Ballantyne told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Turner was appointed by the B.C. Liberal government as official trustee in October 2016. She has a one-year term.

      The next Vancouver civic election is scheduled in October next year.

      According to Ballantyne, Turner should be given the opportunity to serve her term, with voters electing a new set of trustees in a regular election.

      “Has Dianne Turner done a good job? I think she has,” Ballantyne said.

      In a media conference last Monday (June 5), Turner claimed that staff members are concerned about the likely return of the fired trustees.

      A B.C. NDP minority government is expected to take power, and may either reinstate the former board or call a byelection.

      Ballantyne warned that a number of staff members may leave if some of the former trustees get back.

      “It’s going to be a mass exodus if we don’t continue to keep the bubble of protection for the next year at least,” Ballantyne said.

      Lombardi with Vision Vancouver was chair of the board when trustees were dismissed by the provincial government in October last year.

      According to Lombardi, Turner should go once a new provincial government led by the B.C. NDP is in place.

      “She should be terminated on Day One,” Lombardi told the Straight in a phone interview. “She is a representative of the B.C. Liberal government. A change of government requires democratically elected trustees who speak on behalf of Vancouver citizens. As far as I’m concerned, she has no mandate once the B.C. Liberal government is gone.”

      Lombardi also disagreed with Ballantyne’s assertion that time is needed for healing in the district.

      “The healing has been occurring. People had been back in work,” Lombardi said, referring to senior staff members who have returned to their posts after going on leave during the time of the previous board.

      Lombardi noted that former school trustees are attending board meetings, and that they are talking to staff.

      “I think things are just fine,” Lombardi said.

      Lombardi and his Vision colleagues Patti Bacchus, Joy Alexander, and Allan Wong have denied that they bullied and harassed staff.

      The B.C. Liberal government is anticipated to fall, with the Green Party of B.C. backing a minority B.C. NDP government.

      Former Green school board trustee Janet Fraser was one of those fired in October last year.

      “I’d like to switch from having an official trustee to having elected trustees,” Fraser told the Straight by phone.